Uproar In Assembly As BJP Legislators Beat Rashid Over Beef Party

8 October 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: There was uproar and walkout by opposition in Legislative Assembly today after Independent MLA, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, was thrashed by some Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) legislators in the Legislative Assembly for throwing a beef party at MLAs' Hostel last evening. As soon as the MLA Rashid entered the House, BJP MLAs Gagan Bhagat and Rajiv Sharma caught hold of him and thrashed him. The other BJP MLAs also came charging at him but Rashid was saved by the Congress and NC legislators. This led to uproar in the House with Congress and NC legislators shouting at the BJP legislators. The PDP legislators and the Ministers who had just arrived in the House left when the incident happened but later returned as the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed came in the House. Rashid had thrown a beef party at the MLA hostel last evening, where BJP MLAs also reside. He served kababs, meat balls and patties in the lawn of the MLA hostel. The BJP MLAs were angry over the MLA's act for hurting their sentiments. The assault on Rashid on the floor of the House triggered an angry reaction from the opposition National Conference, Congress and CPI (M). Opposition leader and former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, in his speech condemned it. 'What happened today is impossible to digest. An Honourable member being assaulted in the House. It seems that they wanted to murder him. If he had done anything that was objectionable that should have been put on record', he said. Omar said: 'Our sentiments are also attached to this issue We don't force our religion on you. My religion prohibits consumption of alcohol and pork Do I assault everyone who eats pork or alcohol.' He demanded statement from Chief Minister on the issue. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed condemned the attack and said sentiments should be kept under check. 'I condemn this incident. The House has good tradition .Sentiments should be kept under control. I ask Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh to apologise for the misconduct of his party MLAs,' he said. The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, said: 'We do not approve of what happened in the Assembly today. But what happened in the MLAs hostel yesterday was also wrong,' he said, referring Rashid's beef party. This could not satisfy the opposition and they demanded apology from BJP. Singh then rose up again and said: 'Whatever has happened, it is unfortunate. You have sentiments and others too have sentiments. I disapprove it.' Not satisfied with the Singh's statement the entire opposition staged a walkout. They demanded suspension of the BJP MLAs and an apology from the BJP. But the BJP MLAs were on their feet telling Dr Singh not to make an apology. 'We will prefer suspension over apology', they told Dr Singh. However, later Singh said he felt sorry for what happened in the House. 'I have condemned it earlier. It is unfortunate. I feel sorry for it', he said. BJP MLA Ravinder Raina said Rashid had hurt the sentiments of Hindus. 'It was not a case of physical manhandling. He has hurt the sentiments of Hindus. I did not beat him,' he said. 'He hosted a beef party last night, it hurt my sentiments. I conveyed the message to the Chief Minister and called SHO but no action was taken against him' said Raina. After the thrashing, Rashid said outside the House that he did not want to offend anyone but wanted to send a message that 'no court or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want'. The MLA said: 'I have consumed beef and it is my religious right, it is my fundamental right and Supreme Court has granted me this right. They just need a reason to beat me. They wanted to kill me inside the House just like they killed a man in Dadri UP. The difference is that he died but I was saved by my colleagues from death.' After the opposition walkout, the House proceedings went normally. The Opposition returned after the Question Hour. The NC and Engineer Rashid who returned the House after the Zero Hour demanded that their bills on Amendment in Ranbir Penal Code be taken up. The consumption and sale of beef under the RPC is banned in Jammu and Kashmir and they wanted amendments in RPC so that ban is revoked. MLA Rashid was in the Well of the House after Question Hour demanding that his Bill should be taken up. He was asked by the treasury and opposition benches to return to this seat but he refused. The opposition wanted that today's session should be extended till evening so that the Bills are introduced and discussed and voted in the House. Speaking on the occasion, Omar said: 'You (Speaker) are free to decide whether to grant extra time or not. Recently there were two sittings in a day in Jammu and why can't we have two sittings here. You have decided it that this Bill has not to come. Government is behind you and they don't want this bill to come up. You extend the time till 5 p.m. or 9 p.m. We are here, we want discussion on it.' However, Rural Development Minister pointing at opposition said that there is no threat to the Government. He accused them of wasting the time of the Assembly. He said that there is record about the timings of the House and that should be checked. The Speaker, adjourned the House at 1: 30 p.m. for the day, leading to protests by opposition. Rashid who was in the Well of House tried to snatch Speaker's mike but the security staff of the Assembly prevented him from ransacking the Assembly furniture. The Council also witnessed pandemonium over Rashid's beef party and his beating in the Lower House. As soon as the business of the Council began, the MLCs of BJP and National Conference (NC) rose to their feet and started ruckus. The BJP MLCs were outraged over the holding of beef party and demanded arrest of Rasheed. The opposition NC and Congress raised the issue of beating of Rasheed and their respective adjournment motions. The NC had moved the adjournment motion over the law and order situation in the State while the Congress had moved adjournment motion over the issue of dailywagers. However, the beef row and beating of Rasheed dominated the first few minutes of the business with BJP MLCs raising slogans like 'Engineer Rasheed ko girfataar karo (arrest Engineer Rasheed)'. The BJP MLCs who include Ashok Khajuria and Charanjeet Singh accused Rasheed of hurting their religious sentiments. However, the Chairman Anayat Ali asked the MLCs of both the parties to sit down and said: 'There would be no discussion related to Lower House here.' The BJP members continued their protest and sloganeering while the NC members accused the ruling party of 'hooliganism'. Amidst the chaos in the House, the Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Justice, Basharat Bukhari stood from his chair and defended the beef consuming but said there won't be any discussion in the Upper House as Rasheed is not its member. 'According to the Constitution of India and Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, people have every right to live their life the way they want. I as a Muslim have every right to consume beef and Hindus have every right to do whatever they want,' he said. He further said: 'I, as a Parliamentary Affairs, am ashamed of what happened in the Lower House nobody has any right to take us for a ride.' After Bukhari, the Forest Minister Bali Baghat also condemned the assault and he also condemned the hosting of beef party by Rasheed. He said that both acts are wrong and urged the legislators to maintain the secular fabric of the State. At one point, the coalition partners' MLCs had also heated argument with one other. The Rural Development Minister Abdul Haq Khan said in the House that as per his knowledge Rasheed did not host beef party. 'His (Rasheed) mission is to stay in news As per my information, he got kababs and patties from Ahdoos Hotel,' he said, adding: 'those were not beef kababs. He did this just to be in news.' In the meanwhile, the opposition members raised the issue of their adjournment motions and asked the Chairman to suspend the Question hour. The Chairman, however, didn't accept the opposition demand after which the NC MLC Qaiser Jamsheed Lone accused him of ignoring the voice of opposition. 'You don't listen to opposition. You only listen to Government,' he alleged. As the chaotic scene continued to prevail in the House, the ruling BJP and PDP MLCs exchanged heated arguments with opposition MLCs. The NC said that they want the Chairman to suspend the Question Hour and sought discussion over law and order situation and the innocent killings that took place in Valley this year. They also said that the statement of the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar should be discussion as he had stated that the 'terrorists should be neutralized by terrorists' and tried to relate his remarks with the killings. Amid uproar, the PDP MLC Firdous Ahmad Tak urged the Chairman to allow the discussion over innocent killings and accuse the NC of shedding the blood of innocents during its tenure. He also raised the issue of Haji Yousuf, who was a senior activist of NC, and accused the party of 'murdering' him. Tak was seconded by another PDP MLC Yasir Reshi and he raised the 2010 killings in the Valley. 'You killed 122 persons in 2010. They are murderers. You are murderers,' Reshi shouted in the House. He also urged the Chairman to allow discussion over the issue of innocent killings. Reshi also raked up the issue of cricket scam and demanded probe. To this, the Minister Haq Khan replied that the probe has been handed over to CBI. 'CBI doesn't spare anyone,' he said. Amid uproar, Congress also demanded suspension of Question hour and sought discussion over the issue of dailywagers. However, the Chairman disallowed the adjournment motions of both the opposition parties. Angered at the rejection of their adjournment motion, the NC MLCs staged a walkout from the House. The Congress MLCs continued to raise the issue of dailywagers but the Chairman paid no heed and the Question hour was going on. At 11:40 am, the NC members returned to the House but Congress staged walkout. After coming back into the House, the NC members sought clarification from Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu over his statement wherein yesterday he said that some legislators' relatives are using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Waving the copy of a local daily that had published the Finance Minister's statement, the NC MLC Bashir Ahmad Veeri said: 'It is the matter of all legislators. A debate should be held over it.' But the Chairman disallowed any debate while in protest Veeri came into well of the House and displayed newspaper copy to the Chairman. Though the Finance Minister didn't clarify his statement but he told the NC and Congress MLCs that they should have taken up the matter yesterday. After failing to convince the Speaker on any issue, the NC members staged a walkout and the Chairman adjourned the House proceedings at 12 noon.