The controversial anti-beef ban bill, which has put the PDP-BJP coalition government in a spot, could not be taken up in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on Thursday despite being listed for discussion.
The Assembly had its fair share of drama over the beef ban row earlier in the day with BJP MLAs assaulting Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid for hosting a beef party at the MLA hostel in the city yesterday.
As soon as the Speaker adjourned the House proceedings, Rashid, who had been camping in the well of the House for more than an hour, lunged towards the chair and snatched the papers on Gupta’s table.
The Independent MLA was whisked away by the marshals.
Speaker Kavinder Gupta adjourned the House for the day at 1.30 PM., the schedule followed in the Assembly during the current session which began on October 3.
Opposition National Conference members had sought extension of the timings in order to take up all the listed business, which included the controversial bill.
Three private member’s bills, seeking amendment to the Ranbir Penal Code that would decriminalise beef slaughter in the state, were listed in the business at serial number 10, 11 and 12.
The bills were moved by three MLAs from National Conference, CPI(M) MLA M Y Tarigami and MLA Rashid.
As the House was discussing Calling Attention Motions, Tarigami asked the Speaker to extend the timing of the session till 5.00 as provided in the rule book for conduct of business.
National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said his party had apprehensions that the bill will not be deliberately taken up.
“We have apprehensions that this bill will not be taken up. You will adjourn the House,” Omar said requesting the Speaker to inform the House if he would extend the business proceedings.
Omar also cited past examples in this regard.
“Why only till 5 PM, extend the house till 9.00 PM. We won’t seek any lunch or dinner but we want this issue to be discussed,” he added.
Law Minister Basharat Bukhari intervened, saying it was decided in the Business Advisory Committee meeting in 2012 that the proceedings for each day will end at 1.30 PM.
“The recommendations of the Committee were adopted by the House,” he added.
Omar responded by saying that it was the speaker’s discretion to decide on the timings.
“It seems that you have already decided to adjourn the house as the Chief Minister has left the House. This seems to be the way for saving their chair. This government is hiding behind you (speaker),” he said.
Rashid had yesterday hosted a beef party here in defiance of the High Court order directing implementation of provisions to ban beef and said that no courts or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want.
The legislator from Langate had hosted the party in the lawns of MLA hostel here, with the guests being served beef kebabs, ‘ristas’ (meat balls) and beef patties.
Rashid had claimed that he did not want to offend anyone but wanted to send a message that “no courts or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want”.
This step (beef party) was “just to give them (legislators) a clear message that it hardly makes any difference whether you accept or reject the bill… Religious matters cannot be kept subservient to courts and assembly,” the MLA had said.
The beef row erupted after a division bench of High Court in Jammu directed the state to strictly implement the ban in the state as per the law.
The order evoked strong resentment from various quarters with many separatist and religious organisations terming it as “interference in religious affairs” and sought revocation of the law, besides pressing for implementation of ban on liquor in the state.
The issue is now before the Supreme Court.