After Massive Protests, Sloganeering, Speaker Admits Adjournment Motions

After Massive Protests, Sloganeering, Speaker Admits Adjournment Motions

1 March 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After a full day of the Legislative Assembly was lost in the din created by Opposition members seeking admission of their adjournment motions and discussion on execution of Afzal Guru and killing of Pargwal (Akhnoor) native Chamel Singh in Pakistani jail, Speaker Mubarak Gul late this evening decided to admit them and allow discussion in the House on Monday, the next working day as all Saturdays were declared as off-days today. Official sources told the Excelsior that Legislative Assembly Speaker Mubarak Gul was not averse to debate on the adjournment motions. He has admitted the motions, the debate on which would be held on Monday. “They said Mr Gul had said in the House even today that his heart was not against the discussion but since it was his first day in the House he wanted normal business to be taken up first. “The Speaker had not rejected any of the five adjournment motions moved for today. He had only reserved the judgment but the Opposition didn’t listen to him”, sources said, adding the Speaker would allow discussion on the adjournment motions on Monday, which was the next working day. “The debate would be followed by a Government reply”, sources said, adding it was not necessary that the Chief Minister had to reply to the adjournment motion. “Any Minister from the Government could reply to the debate”, they said. The NC’s adjournment motion had been moved by Nasir Aslam Wani, Javaid Ahmad Dar, Aga Ruhullah, former Ministers, Mohammad Ashraf Ganaie and Peer Afaq while the PDP motion was moved by Mehbooba Mufti and 16 other MLAs. CPM MLA MY Tarigami had moved his separate motion. Jugal Kishore and Harshdev Singh had moved the BJP and NPP adjournment motions respectively. While, the ruling National Conference, Opposition PDP and CPM had moved adjournment motions seeking suspension of the day’s business to discuss situation arising out execution of Afzal Guru and return of his mortal remains to the family, the BJP and the NPP had moved adjournment motions on killing of Pargwal villager Chamel Singh in Lahore jail and return of his body. The Speaker’s decision to admit the adjournment motions on Monday came after the Legislative Assembly today witnessed massive uproar by all Opposition parties over the execution of 2001 Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru and killing of Pargwal prisoner Chamel Singh in Lahore jail at Pakistan prompting newly elected Speaker Mubarak Gul to adjourn the House thrice before calling it off for the day without transaction of any major business. Mr Gul refused to give his judgment on five adjournment motions moved by ruling National Conference, Opposition PDP and CPM seeking suspension of entire business for today to discuss the situation arising out of execution of Guru and Centre Government’s refusal to handover his body to the family and two motions moved by BJP MLA Jugal Kishore and NPP Legislature Party leader Harshdev Singh on the killing of Chamel Singh in a Pakistani jail on January 15 and delay in return of his body. On being pressed repeatedly by various members including those belonging to the ruling party, the Speaker said he has reserved his judgment on all five adjournment motions. After two adjournments of over an hour and 35 minutes respectively to work out a solution to the impasse, the Speaker finally adjourned the House for the day at 12.42 pm till tomorrow. However, with the Assembly Secretariat on the consent of Business Advisory Committee (BAC) declaring all Saturdays as off-days in the Assembly, a fresh adjournment motion moved by the PDP for tomorrow was rendered infructuous, official sources said, adding that debate on the adjournment motions would take place on Monday. The Congress, the Alliance partner with National Conference was the only major political party, which maintained silence on the adjournment motions-both on Guru and Chamel Singh. The Congress MLAs remained neutral during the complete pandemonium in the Legislative Assembly. The first day of the budget session of the Legislature today, which had started with Governor NN Vohra’s joint address to both Houses of Legislature yesterday was completely lost in the din amidst massive sloganeering by the Opposition parties and virtually no major business could be taken up. While the Question Hour didn’t begin at all, the debate on Motion of Thanks to Governor’s Address, in which two members (Abdul Gani Malik of NC and Krishan Chander Bhagat of Congress) participated, was completely lost in the din created by the slogans shouting Opposition members. After joining protests in the House along with Opposition PDP, albeit from their seats, CPM MLA Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami and PDF MLA and former Minister Hakim Mohammad Yasin staged a walk-out in the Assembly supporting the demand for discussion on execution of Afzal Guru and return of his body to the family members. Both the MLAs, who were unofficially being described as members of the Third Front by the media, announced that they would continue to press the issue again in the House. As soon as the House resumed its sitting for the day at 10 am, Mubarak Gul’s efforts to woo the PDP by saying that he welcome the PDP members from core of the heart today as they had abstained from the House yesterday during his election as Speaker, went in the vain as all PDP MLAs besides Engineer Rashid were on their feet. The Speaker allowed PDP chief whip Abdul Gaffar Sofi to speaker, who said the PDP has moved an adjournment motion on prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley post-Guru execution and wanted it to be discussed in the House after suspension of the entire business for the day. CPM MLA MY Tarigami said he has also submitted a similar motion. “The issue is of utmost importance. We can’t wait for today’s business to discuss it”, he added. NPP Legislature Party leader Harshdev Singh and BJP MLA from Nagrota, Jugal Kishore said they have also moved adjournment motions to discuss brutal killing of Indian prisoner Chamel Singh of Pargwal in Lahore jail on January 15 this year and Pakistan’s failure to return his body to the family members. “If Afzal Guru’s issue is being raised in the House, then the Government should also come up with a statement on Chamel Singh, whose body has not yet been returned by Pakistan to his family,” Mr Singh said. He said that it is unfortunate that there is no reaction so far from the State and the Central Governments. Earlier, JKNPP MLA Balwant Singh Mankotia raised the issue of Talwara migrants. “Supreme Court had already directed the State Government to treat Talwara migrants at par with Kashmiri migrants but they are still being deprived of their rights,” Mr Mankotia said. He appealed to the House to pass directions to the Government to implement the ruling of the Supreme Court. BJP MLA Jugal Kishore said Chamel Singh was taken away from the field and was beaten to death in Lahore jail on January 15 this year. “Since then, Chamel’s family members have been awaiting his dead body but Pakistan has refused to give it”, he regretted. BJP breakaway faction leader Prof Chaman Lal Gupta said the recent hailstorm has caused extensive damage to the crops and the farmers must be compensated. Mr Gul said he has received five adjournment motions-three on execution of Afzal Guru by NC, PDP and CPM MLAs and two on Chamel Singh by NPP and BJP MLAs. “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who had also given a statement on the issue. Mufti Sayeed (former Chief Minister and PDP patron) has also written a letter to the Prime Minister. The civil society has also expressed concern over the execution. There has been a debate in the media also. My heart also has something to say. I would take conscience decision on the adjournment motion. “Before Muzaffar Hussain Baig (the PDP leader and former Law Minister) and Law Minister (Saifullah Mir) enter into legal debate, given me time. I will talk to the Business Advisory Committee and find out a way for discussion. I am not rejecting the motions but only reserving my judgment”, the Speaker told agitated Opposition members repeatedly but to no avail as PDP MLAs (excepting Mehbooba Mufti) and Engineer Rashid kept protesting and shouting slogans near Well of the House while NPP legislators including Harshdev Singh, Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal raised slogans in favour of return of the body of Chamel Singh from their seats. Ms Mufti remained glued to her seat. Mr Baig, who attended the House for few minutes, was also confined to his seat. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also didn’t join the House proceedings today. Former Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani and former Minister of State for Works Javaid Ahmad Dar also urged the Speaker to admit their adjournment motion and allow debate on execution of Afzal Guru. PDP MLA and former Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said the adjournment motion means suspension or normal business of the House and holding debate immediately and there can be no Question House. He noted that even the Prime Minister has expressed concern over the execution. Another PDP MLA Peer Mansoor Shah pointed out that the NC has also moved the adjournment motion and there should be no problem in discussion on Guru. Basharat Bukhari of PDP said the Speaker should hold the debate and listen to concern of the member. The Speaker again pointed out that it was a Constitutional matter and he need time to discuss certain aspects. Moreover, he reiterated that he was reserving judgment on the bill. After this, the PDP MLAs protested from their seats carrying placards and shouting slogans. Independent MLA Engineer Rashid, who was protesting from his seat, reached near the Well of the House and continued protest. Mr Tarigami told the Chair that two major political parties of the State (NC and PDP) have moved adjournment motions. The issue was of major concern. The Speaker should admit the motions and allow the debate, he said. The PDP MLAs carrying placards started shouting slogans after which the Speaker adjourned the House at 10.25 am for half an hour. The House met at 11.30 am and Mr Gul reiterated his decision that he had reserved verdict on all five adjournment motions. He went ahead with the business prompting PDP members to first protest from their seats and then trooped into Well of the House. The PDP members were shouting slogans like 'Afzal Guru Ki Jasat Khaki Ko Wapis Karo, Wapis Karo’, 'Fansi Dilwane Say Naheen Dare, Bahas Say Kyon Darte Ho’, 'Guru Ko To Fansi Di, Ghalib (Guru’s son) Say Insaaf Karo’, 'Punjab Aur Tamil Nadu Sarkaar Nay Inkaar Kiya, Jammu Aur Kashmir Sarkaar Nay Ikraar Kiya’. After few minutes’ silence, all three NPP MLAs-Harshdev Singh, Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal besides JSM MLA Ashwani Sharma also started slogans 'Chamel Singh Kay Paarthiv Shareer Ko Waapis Karo, Waapis Karo’. Amidst massive sloganeering, NC MLA Abdul Gani Malik and Congress MLA Krishan Chander Bhagat spoke on debate on Motion of Thanks to Governor’s Address but their voice was lost in the din of massive sloganeering in the Well of the House. Throughout the protests, the Congress members remained silent. The BJP and BJP rebels also adopted silence after initial protests. Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Saifullah Mir intervened during protests saying there were five adjournment motions before the Speaker. “We have also been pressing. The Speaker should take decision as per House procedure”, he said. “Is House Ko Delhi Walon Ne Jaleel Kar Diya”, Engineer Rashid shouted in response to Mir’s statement from Well of the House. Saifullah Mir pointed out that the motions have neither been rejected nor disallowed but only reserved. “There was no justification of protest”, he said. PDP MLA Zulfikar Choudhary wanted to know from the Speaker that under which rules he has reserved judgment on motions. The PDP MLAs were of the view that adjournment motions were meant for today and so the decision should be given today itself. Former Minister and PDP MLA Javed Mustafa Mir was the more vocal in shouting slogans. Mr Gul’s repeated appeals to the PDP MLAs to take their seats had no impact. NC MLA Nasir Aslam Wani said it was genuine concerns that mortal remains of Guru should be returned and buried by his family members. However, taking a dig at the PDP, he said the PDP was in power when his execution was ordered and they did nothing. Now they are enacting drama, he added. Harshdev Singh quoted Rule 56 saying his motion means suspension of today’s business and not any other day. He wanted the Speaker to give his judgment but Gul insisted that he has reserved the judgment. At the height of protests and sloganeering, Engineer Rashid pulled away mike and some books of the Assembly Rapporteurs after which the latter had to vacate on seat. At 12.05 pm, the Speaker again adjourned the House. The Assembly met again at 12.40 pm and there was again uproar. NC MLA Abdul Gani Malik said the MLAs be allowed to offer Friday prayers. Within a minute, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day amid slogans of ‘shame, shame’ by some PDP members.