NC Moves Privilege Motion Against VK Singh In State Legislature

NC Moves Privilege Motion Against VK Singh In State Legislature

30 September 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The ruling National Conference today moved a breach of privilege motion in the State Legislature against former Army chief General (retired) V K Singh for his revelations that Army has been paying money to the Ministers in the State since 1947. Minister of Law, Mir Saifullah told the autumn session of the Legislative Assembly that the NC Ministers and MLAs have submitted the privilege motion against former Army chief General VK Singh for his statement on Army paying money to Ministers in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947. The NC Ministers and MLAs in the motion said that not only the Ministers of successive Governments but also the Government of India, including Army, which everybody respected as the most apolitical institution of the country, had been smeared by General Singh’s statements. “We the undersigned, seek your kind consent to the raising of a matter in the House as a question of privilege against Gen VK Singh, retired chief of Army Staff for his reckless and un-substantiated statement against the State Ministers with the sole aim of damaging the reputation and credibility of these Ministers in public estimation,” the motion, signed by all the NC Ministers and some former Ministers, reads. “The statement of General Singh is not only untrue, unfounded and unsubstantiated, but it has been made by him as part of a larger plan of deprecating, defaming and vilifying the State politicians in general and the Minister in the present Government in particular. These reckless charges have lowered the esteem and prestige of Ministers in the eyes of public and has severely damaged the reputation and image of all mainstream politicians in the State,” it further reads. Claiming that suspicion created amongst people by the allegations of General Singh has made it difficult for them to carry on their routine political and Government activities, the Ministers and former Ministers said: “The generalised statement of Mr Singh has created a perception in Jammu and Kashmir that Army is the de-facto ruler in the State and the elected representatives are merely pawns in the hands of Army. This perception has damaged the very edifice of democratic institutions particularly the J&K State Legislature.” “Without spelling out the names who have allegedly received money from Army, Mr Singh has generalised the allegations thus making every elected representative a suspicious character. By doing so, Mr Singh has denigrated the State Legislature in general and its members in particular. This act of Mr Singh constitutes contempt of the House and its members,” they arrested. Stressing that prima facie case of breach of privilege has been made out by General Singh’s statement, they appealed to the Speaker to refer the motion to the Committee of Privileges for investigation under Rule 238 with Rule 241 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the J&K Assembly. Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather while speaking on behalf of Government on the obituary references demanded high level probe into the revelations made by former General Singh. “We request Prime Minister and Government of India that a thorough probe be conducted into it to bring out the facts”, said Rather. Rather said his party and Congress fully support the opposition PDP on this issue and truth should come out and there should be thorough discussion on it. “Those who have done wrong and taken money, truth about it should come out. It is more important subject and no subject is more important than this”, he said. Rather described Singh’s utterances as irresponsible and said that it has damaged the credibility of the House, its members and the institution of Army. “He has put the Army’s and country’s honour at stake. We are not going to leave VK Singh, we will make him stand in this House because he has damaged not only the J&K Legislature, but the image of whole country and the Army as well,” Rather said. Rather said a privilege motion against the General is being moved in the House and it is the only way to bring him here. “This has never happened in the history of this country. Let him explain here, let him give names of the people who have received the money.” Earlier, the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti demanded unanimous passage of a resolution asking the Centre to constitute a credible inquiry into former Army chief’s allegations. “If anybody has committed mistake, their names should be known by the people. Otherwise the people who have elected us will not have faith in any one of us”, she said. The PDP also brought an adjournment motion in the Legislative Assembly and sought discussion on the recent statement of former Army on funding Ministers in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947. The motion says: “We draw the attention of this August House towards the matter of urgent public importance i. e. the situation that has arisen in and outside State out of an expose in a national daily endorsed by General (Retired) V K Singh casting a shadow on our democratic institutions and political system since 1947.” “Since the insinuating expose has potential to damage the society as a whole it has triggered a public debate on the fallout. This House cannot shun its responsibility to seize an opportunity for discussion on its implications etc. We, therefore, seek a discussion on this matter under Rule 200, at the earliest”, the motion reads. Speaker Mubarak Gul assured the House that he would take appropriate decision on the NC’s motion and Mehbooba’s demand on the issue, after properly examining the privilege motion. CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami suggested that a resolution be moved by all members of the House, demanding the Centre to order a thorough probe into these revelations. “I fear for this House that has come into existence after lot of sacrifices. The perception that is getting shaped about this House has to be arrested. If it continues it will be dangerous for the country.” MLA Langate, Er Abdul Rashid criticized the Government during his speech on obituary references saying that it is shielding “the stooges” who have been exposed by the former Army chief. “I am surprised that a Hurriyat Conference leader’s House was sealed on the allegation that he received Hawala funds, his House is built on only five Marla’s of land in Chanapora, Srinagar but a Minister who received Rs 1.19 crore, according to VK Singh, is still in the cabinet.” There was some exchange of heated arguments between Rashid and Basharat Bukhari of PDP when the former said that nobody in the House was Hon’ble. “There is nobody Hon’ble in the House because they are the agents of IB and other intelligence agencies,” Rashid said. Rashid also supported the implementation of United Nations resolutions in Jammu and Kashmir, a demand vibrantly and always made by the separatists only. “Why is India shying away, it should ask the people of Jammu and Kashmir their opinion through a plebiscite if it is true in its claim that everybody is comfortable with India,” Rashid said. Minister for Agriculture and an associate member of Congress Ghulam Hassan Mir, who is facing allegation of having secretly received an amount of Rs 1.19 crore from the Army, was present in the House. He, however, in his obituary reference speech didn’t mention anything about former Army chief’s revelations. In the Legislative Council, NC legislator Ajay Sadhotra moved privilege motion against former Army General VK Singh’s statements on Ministers “I am moving a privilege motion on behalf of Davender Singh Rana and Khalid Najeb Suharwardy, both NC memebres, against VK Singh,” he said, before presenting the papers to Chairamn Amrit Malhotra. The Chairman, Legislative Council Amrit Malhotra referred the Privilege Motion to the Privilege Committee.