Jammu Tawi, January 2
The opening day of the budget session of Jammu and Kashmir legislature concluded with protests and slogan shouting making Governor N N Vohra to cut short his address to the joint session on Monday while the national anthem was being played prompting the BJP to demand an apology.
The commotion began even before the governor’s joint address to both the houses as NC members distributing placards saying “Stop Using Pellet Guns”, “Remove PSA”, etc, met with resistance from PDP MLA Yasin Shah. It led to a heated exchange between Shah and NC MLA Altaf Wani and MLC Bashir Veeri among others. Amid unprecedented protests by the opposition groups, National Conference, Congress and CPI-M, the Governor started his address to the joint session of the legislature but he was not allowed to speak as some of the members approached the podium from where he was addressing. The Legislators representing opposition National Conference (NC) and Congress parties also including CPI (M) and PDF were seen visible on their toes raising slogans against PDP-BJP coalition government. This made the Governor to cut short his speech, which spoke of the government’s performance and its outlook for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
First to come out of the session was independent legislator Engineer Rashid holding the placard reading “Hold plebiscite on both sides of the LoC”, amid the deafening shouting by other opposition members “Stop killings, stop RSS agenda”.
Congress CLP leader and former Minister, Nawang Rigzin Jora while describing the ruling coalition as Jumalo Ki Sarkar (Coalition of mere lip service and slogans) sought to know who is responsible for recent Kashmir unrest. National Conference Legislators too were seen sloganeering against PDP-BJP coalition and held the government responsible for so many killings and unrest besides loss of properties worth crores in Kashmir valley in past over four months.
“Where is the vision of Mehbooba Mufti? Where is the political dialogue? This government imposed a curfew on Eid, we were not allowed to read namaz. We want to make the government accountable for the tyranny it has unleashed on the masses. We have every right to raise the voice against people’s suffering,” senior NC leader Ali Mohammed Sagar said.
CPI(M) MLA MY Tarigami accused the government of imposing a marshal law in the valley and said that hundreds have been illegally confined in various jails in the state. Congress legislature party leader and MLA Nawang Rigzin Jora said the situation deteriorated in the valley due to the ‘unholy alliance’ of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and BJP.
The ‘united’ opposition came with placards and some even wore black to register their protest against the summer’s unrest in the valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahiddin commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
Anticipating trouble, the authorities did not make separate sitting arrangements for the opposition and ruling coalition members this time. The entire opposition shouted anti-government slogans, saying “Qatil Sarkar Hai Hai” and “Stop innocent killings in valley”. Later, they staged a sit-in protest outside the central hall of J-K legislature.
Meanwhile, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded an apology from the opposition, especially from Congress, for disrespecting the national anthem. “No one is above the nation and everyone has the right to protest, but not in such an unruly manner. Disrespecting the national anthem is not acceptable,” BJP legislator Ravinder Raina said.
Education minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar termed the ‘ruckus’ by the opposition during governor’s address as unfortunate. “Both disruption of governor’s address and disrespect of the national anthem are regrettable. They (opposition) have only slogans and are not concerned with the issues confronting the masses. For us, people’s issue are of prime concern. Let’s hope better sense prevails and we have trouble free session,” Akhtar said.
Parliamentary affairs minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said it was a “pre-panned programme” to disrupt the governor’s address and an irresponsible act by the opposition that “clearly shows their desperation”.
“We (PDP) never disrespected the national anthem or disrupted the governor’s address. We never threw placards on the governor or protested by standing on our seats,” he added.