NC Boycotts Autumn Session Over Suspension Of Its 4 Lawmakers

6 October 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The Opposition National Conference (NC) today announced to boycott rest of the autumn session of Assembly and Council after the Presiding Officers of both the Houses suspended their four lawmakers as opposition protests rocked the Houses, witnessing chaotic scenes. As Houses assembled, several National Conference members were on their feet showing banners, calling for upholding and strengthening of Article 35-A. The NC members demanded suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue of Article 35-A, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court. Congress members displayed banners demanding discussion on the issue of regularisation of daily wagers and other contractual staff of the Government. Speaker Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta while rejecting suspension of the business said Article 35-A could not be taken up for discussion as it is sub-judice before the Supreme Court while other issues could be discussed after the Question Hour. As the Opposition continued its demand about discussion on Article 35-A, the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Syed Basharat Bukhari, stood up and said Government will protect the special status granted to the State under Indian Constitution. 'We are here to safeguard and protect the Article 370 and Article 35-A. Article 35-A could not be taken up for discussion as it is sub-judice before the Supreme Court,' he said amid thumping of desks by the treasury benches. 'They only want to disrupt the House. It is not necessary to adjourn the Question Hour. Article 35A is sub-judice and there are rules which must be followed. Question Hour is meant for raising issues of public interest in the House. Please stop creating disruptions,' the Minister told the Opposition. Bukhari said rules demand that the House should not hear matters which are sub-judice. 'Go and read the rules. What are you shouting for? By creating this melee, you are only wasting the precious time of this House,' he said. The Minister's and Speaker's remarks prompted the opposition members to storm into the Well of the House, leading to pandemonium. The Speaker, however, did not adjourn the House and conducted the proceedings amid protests and sloganeering by entire opposition for about an hour. The opposition members then staged parallel proceedings in the Well of the House. A chair was placed at the opposite end of the Well for former Speaker and NC MLA Mubarak Gul to preside over the proceedings. The chair was immediately removed by the Assembly staff before Gul could sit on it. Gul, however, conducted mock proceedings with protesting MLAs of NC, Congress and Independents. Some NC MLAs later tried to climb the tables of Assembly reporters, snatched papers from them and tore them, prompting the Speaker to order eviction and suspension of NC MLAs, Altaf Wani and Abdul Majeed Larmi, for the rest of the session. This infuriated NC members along with entire opposition, except Independent MLA Abdul Rashid Sheikh, staged a walkout and raised slogans against the Speaker, the Government, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Former Chief Minister and NC leader Omar Abdullah hit out at Speaker Kavinder Gupta, saying he was throttling the voice of opposition after the Speaker rejected their demand for suspension of Question Hour to discuss the issue of Article 35-A, which upholds the unique status for residents of the State. 'We will boycott the rest of the session,' he said. 'This Speaker is hiding behind the Supreme Court and the garb of something being sub-judice. The person compromising the decorum of the House is the Speaker,' Omar said. NC leader said his party followed rules and moved adjournment motions for a debate on Article 35-A, and the Speaker was responsible for the ruckus in the Assembly. 'We did not create ruckus first. We brought adjournment motions under rules, but those were summarily dismissed and an excuse was made that the matter is sub-judice. In such a situation if there is ruckus in the House, then the Speaker is responsible for it,' Omar said. NC leader said the party would take a call on attending the Assembly session if the Speaker allowed the bills moved by it. 'If they allow the bills, then we will decide. But I do not think soThe Government did not allow a discussion on the name of a lawyer, how will it allow a discussion on the beef ban issue? This Government is trying to save itself by hiding behind the Supreme Court and the chair of the Speaker. I do not think they will be ready to allow the bills,' he said. After the opposition walkout, the normal business for the day continued smoothly and the Independent MLA Abdul Rashid Sheikh remained in the Well of the House for the entire day. He tried to disrupt the House by passing remarks at every law maker during their questions and answers. The other opposition party, Congress has decided to protest against the suspension of the four NC lawmakers inside the House. In a meeting held late this meeting, Congress decided to bring adjournment motions on law and order situation and power tariff. And the Council also witnessed similar unruly scenes as were witnessed in the Assembly on similar issues as soon as the proceedings of the House began this morning. The NC and Congress MLCs demanded discussion over the issue of 35A and ration. The NC had moved an adjournment motion over 35A while their alliance partners Congress had moved another adjournment motion over ration distribution. The Opposition members waved the banners inscribed with slogans like 'Save Article 35A' and shouted slogans against the Government. As the uproar continued, the House Chairman Anayat Ali urged the protesting members to sit-down. In the meanwhile, the Member of Legislative Council (MLC) Ghulam Nabi Monga told the chairman that they had submitted an adjournment motion over the ration distribution and demanded discussion over the issue. However, the Chairman said that the Government has already answered several questions pertaining to ration. The Chairman clearly told the NC members that he won't allow any discussion over Article 35 A'as the matter is sub-judice'. 'The matter is sub-judice. We cannot do any discussion over this issue. It is in the Supreme Court,' he told the members. To this, the NC and Congress members raised slogans against the coalition Government, accused it of following the diktats of Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Amidst pandemonium, the Opposition members stormed into the Well of House, climbed tables and tore papers. 'We can't do anything (over Article 35A). Please let the question hour function. Regarding ration, we will see it later,' the Chairman in a bid to pacify members said. As the Question hour was underway amidst uproar, the Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) Minister Chowdhary Zulfiqar demanded action against the Opposition members for disrupting the House proceedings. To this, the Chairman told NC and Congress members to sit-down as the Government would answer about the ration. The members of ruling parties and opposition also had a verbal brawl during the uproar. As NC's Ali Mohammad Dar and Showkat Ganai were standing on reporters table, the Minister of CAPD demanded suspension of the duo. The Chairman told Dar and Ganai that by standing on table they are 'violating the sanctity of House' and asked them to come down. However, the duo didn't oblige Chairman and the latter suspended them and were marshaled out. With this, the NC members and Congress were infuriated and they created further ruckus. NC MLCs that include Bashir Ahmad Veeri, Qaiser Jamsheed Lone and Sajad Kitchloo were marshaled out. The other members of NC and Congress voluntarily staged a walk-out in protest against the suspension and marshalling out of their colleagues. Later the House proceeding continued without opposition members till afternoon and was adjourned for day.