Article 370 Row : Speaker Adjourns House Sine Die

Srinagar : The Jammu and Kashmir assembly was on Wednesday adjourned sine die seven days ahead of the scheduled time amid noisy scenes by the opposition members who were seeking clarification from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti over her remark on Article 370.

The lower house witnessed zero decorum by unprecedented protests during which furniture was damaged and mikes were uprooted by opposition members who demanded that chief minister Mehbooba Mufti should clarify her stand on her remarks on Article 370, forcing the speaker to adjourn the House. As the House assembled this morning, Leader of the Opposition Omar Abdullah sought clarification from speaker Kavinder Gupta on whether he had checked the records of the proceedings connected with the Chief Minister’s statement and expunged her remarks on Article 370.

“I want to ask whether you have expunged the remarks. Have you gone through the records,” Omar asked. “When will the chief minister give her statement on the floor of House to clarify her stand on her remark. At what time she is going to give her statement,” he questioned. The Speaker said he has gone through the records and the chief minister did not mean what has been said over her remarks. On this, National Conference and Congress trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans against the government and the speaker, demanding that the chief minister make a statement on the floor of the House.

Some of the members were seen protesting on the tables and furniture and mikes were uprooted during the protests. Chairs were thrown, papers were torn and thrown in the well as anti-government, anti-BJP, anti-Speaker and anti-RSS slogans were raised. Some of the members virtually came close to clashing with Lal Singh, a minister of the ruling coalition, however, the marshals and watch and ward staff prevented it. During the violent protests, one watch and ward staff got injured.

The speaker adjourned the House for half an hour as it became difficult to continue the proceedings. Speaking to the reporters outside the House, Congress Legislative Party leader Nawang Rigzin Jora said, “We had raised the issue of the chief minister’s remarks and its clarification yesterday and the speaker had told us that we have expunged it but later retracted by saying it has not been expunged.”

“The speaker is enacting a drama in the House. He should make up his mind whether he has expunged it or not. What does he want? Does he want to run the House smoothly,” Jora said. Jora said on Wednesday Omar had asked in a quite and peaceful way whether the CM’s statement has been expunged. “The speaker tried to hoodwink us by giving a confusing statement saying that the CM did not mean what has been attributed to her in the statement. It is part of the record of the House. Please come out with the record of the proceedings and see what she has said and then talk about it. The speaker should not give his interpretation,” he said.

The protests took place because the speaker ignored the opposition’s demand. The clashes were triggered because one of the ministers used abusive words against a member of NC which cannot be tolerated. Speaking to the reporters, CPI (M) MLA M Y Tarigami condemned the violent protests and said it should have not have occurred as it sends a wrong message about the House. He said the issue was not created by the opposition but by the government itself.

“There is a stand of BJP on Article 370 and the chief minister had spoken about it in her statement. BJP had objected to it and the speaker passed remarks on it. We were only demanding that the chief minister should come to the House and clear her position on the issue,” he said. But instead, the government failed to respond to the opposition’s demand, resulting in protests, he said.

Independent MLA Hakeem Yaseen said, “I don’t approve of violent protests but the government is responsible for creating such a situation. Opposition wants to run the House and government should reply to the demand that the chief minister clear her stand on the issue.”

Meanwhile, talking to reporters outside the assembly, Omar Abdullah accused chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and her government of using speaker for hiding the failures of the government.

He said that it is for the first time in the parliamentary history of the country that speaker of any assembly adjourned the House before the scheduled time and he adjourned House on the directions of the chief minister and the parliamentary affairs minister, Omar said, “Calendar for the assembly session comes from the government and it is for the government to ensure the completion of the session in the given time”.

‘Lal Singh abused Larmi, triggered scuffle’

Senior National Conference leader and MLA Sonawari Mohammad Akbar Lone here on Wednesday said that forest minister Lal Singh triggered scuffle in the House when he hurled intolerable abuses on National Conference MLA Abdul Majeed Larmi.

Amid heated exchange of words we entered into a scuffle as Lal Singh continued hurling abuses on Larmi and other members pulled out mikes from the desks. In self-defence some opposition members also scuffled with the members of the ruling PDP-BJP combine. “So it is the government but not the opposition which created an un-conducive atmosphere for the conduct of Assembly proceedings”, Lone said.

Legislative Council Adjourned Sine Die

Upper house of the state legislature on Wednesday witnessed complete chaos with opposition MLCs of NC-Congress staging noisy protests, followed by tables being turned upside down and chairs being flung towards the treasury benches.

As soon as the proceedings in the house began, the opposition MLCs led by NCs Sajjad Kitchloo, Showkat Ganai, Qaiser Jamsheed Lone and Congress MLCs Jugal Kishore and Ghulam Nabi Monga stood up in protest against the expunging of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s remarks by Speaker Kavinder Gupta.

Congress MLC Jugal Kishore pointedly told BJP ministers and MLCs to explain where they stand now after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti branded them as anti-national for seeking abrogation of Article 370. This led to heated exchange of words between the opposition and treasury benches.

This was followed by entire opposition trooping in the well of the house, flinging chairs and tables. Opposition shouted slogans against the coalition government. The violent protest by the opposition MLCs led to Chairman of the House Haji Anayat Ali adjourning the house Sine Die.

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