Uproar in Kashmir Assembly over riots
1 March 2002
The Asian Age
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly witnessed noisy scenes on Friday over the massacre of Ramsevaks and subsequent violence in Gujarat. Following intervention by chief minister Farooq Abdullah order was soon restored in the House. Joined by all members present in the House, the chief minister strongly condemned the communal frenzy and appealed to Muslim and Hindu leaderships of the country to rise to the occasion or be prepared to perish as a nation. Before the Question Hour could be taken up, lone CPI(M) member Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami was on his feet to draw the attention of the House to the Gujarat violence. “The VHP has taken the whole nation to ransom,” he charged. All other members present, except those of the BJP who chose to remain silent, endorsed his view. Finding the leader of the house, Dr Farooq Abdullah, absent from the House, an agitated Mr Tarigami asked: “Where is the chief minister? He must come out with a statement on this brutality being committed in Gujarat.” The CPI(M) member’s grudge against the chief minister also stems from the fact that Dr Abdullah is an ally of the NDA. Over the issue of Muslims being “butchered” in Gujarat and both the state and the Central governments not doing much to contain violence, the chief minister rushed in and promised to make a statement after the Question Hour. Tempers ran high again when ruling NC chief whip Mubarak Gul accused Mr Tarigami and other Opposition members from the Congress and the Peoples’ Democratic Party of making capital out of the tragedy. Speaker Abdul Ahad Vakil, judging the mood of the members, quickly intervened to assure all that nobody with a human heart could tolerate such gory incidents. He said there was no place for such criminal activity in a civilised society, that too, when we claim to be a modern democracy. Following the chief minister’s passionate appeal to both Hindu and Muslim leaderships of the country to see reason and deviate from measures that could lead to the disintegration of the nation, a two-minute silence was observed to pay homage to those killed in Gujarat. The House once again witnessed heated exchanges between members when the BJP’s Ashok Khajuria strongly objected to BSP leader Sheikh Abdul Rehman’s demanding dismissal of the Nerendra Modi government. “Why didn’t you raise the issue on yesterday, why only today,” Mr Khajuria asked Mr Rehman. The BJP member’s grouse was due to the fact that the House failed to raise the issue of the gruesome killing of the Ramsevaks and that Mr Rehman was trying to sit arbiter on the role of the Gujarat government only when members of his own community had been targeted. His senior, Mr Shiv Charan Gupta, alleged that ISI agents were sitting everywhere inside India and were attempting to destroy the country. Mr Rehman accused the Gujarat government of remaining a mute spectator to the massacre of Muslims and destruction of their property. “We know the state police did nothing to stop the goons who went on a killing spree, we know Narendra Modi failed to protect the life and property of his people. Therefore, he must go,” he said. He added that the state chief minister was either “nalayak” (incompetent) or did not act deliberately. The Speaker, Mr Valik, tried to pacify the angry members by assuring them “there is somebody sitting above us who will not spare killers and criminals responsible for shedding the blood of innocent people.” He cautioned that no Army, howsoever strong it might be, could keep a country united unless its people learnt to live together, notwithstanding their religious or ethnic diversity. In Srinagar, the police used force to break up a protest demonstration by lawyers. As the agitators came out of a court in a procession at the Lal Chowk area, the police came in their way and, after a brief scuffle with the lawyers, bundled them into the stationary police vehicles. After having been detained at a nearby police station briefly, the arrested lawyers were set free. The lawyers, aghast over the violent in Gujarat, had reportedly planned to walk up to the office of the United Nations Military Observers for India and Pakistan to present a memorandum. In Jammu, the imam of the Grand Mosque, while delivering the Friday sermon, urged the Muslim community to remain claim and not be provoked by the attempt being made to build a temple at Ayodhya or the senseless killings in Gujarat. “Be patient and wait for the succour to come from Allah,” he asked hundreds of Muslims gathered at the historic mosque at Talab Khatikan in the walled city. Quoting from the Quran, the Grand Iman also reminded the Muslims of how God had saved the Kabah in Makkah from the invaders before the dawn of Islam. “Allah will bestow us with nusrat (triumph),” he told them. Meanwhile, a red alert has been sounded all over Jammu and Kashmir against possible attempts by vested interests to disturb the peace in the area. An official spokesperson said here that adequate security force men had already been fanned out to prevent trouble. The security in Jammu and its neighbourhood in particular has been beefed up further after some local Hindu right wing outfits called for a bandh on Saturday to protest the killing of Ramsevaks on board the Sabarmati Express in Gujarat.