Afzal Guru Clemency Resolution in J&K Assembly Slowed Down

Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was adjourned for the day as Congress and BJP members clashed on two separate issues and nearly came to blows, fans and tables were overturned. One member climbed onto the table of an official in the pandemonium which led to two adjournments before it was adjourned for the day. They also stormed the well of the House.

A resolution seeking clemency for Afzal Guru, a death row convict in a Parliament attack case, was stalled in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Wednesday after pandemonium broke out leading to adjournment of the House without any business being transacted. The resolution, submitted by Independent MLA Shiekh Abdul Rashid, now lapses and cannot come up in the current nine-day Assembly session which ends next Tuesday.

Expressing his displeasure over the conduct of the members, Assembly Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone said the House has been converted into a “fish market.”

“The scene created by you here is giving the impression that this august house has been converted into a fish market,” Lone said.

The Speaker said the conduct of the agitating members was “unfortunate.”

“Very unfortunate. This is not proper, not fair. You are violating the sanctity of this house,” he said.

BJP members supported by Panthers Party MLAs were demanding that the resolution be dropped from the listed business. Congress MLAs were demanding expulsion of BJP MLAs who were suspended from the party for cross-voting in the Legislative Council elections earlier this year.

Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said today the J&K Assembly became a victim of national politics as it was unfortunate that House proceedings were disrupted.

“We would have liked the business of the day taken up as per norms,” he said.

When asked about his party’s stand if the resolution had been taken up, he said, “We were told by the party president (Farooq Abdullah) to vote according to our conscience as it was a private member’s resolution.”

Opposition PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said the “drama” in the Assembly was allegedly directed by National Conference while Congress and BJP were its “actors.”

Congress MLA Vikar Rasool climbed onto the table of Secretary of the Legislative Assembly while shouting slogans against BJP members.

Irked by the disruptions, Rashid also stormed into the well of the House and kicked fans and tables.

Lone at one stage told BJP MLAs there was no harm if the resolution was discussed in the House.

“There is no question of dropping it as it has been already admitted,” he added.

Secretary (Legislative Assembly) Mohammad Ramzan said that according to Assembly rules if a private member resolution is not taken up on the day it is listed, it lapses and cannot be taken up again during the session.

Shouting slogans against the resolution, the BJP and Panthers members said it was “anti-national” to discuss it as Guru’s death sentence has been upheld by the Supreme Court in the Parliament attack case.

Congress legislators, including ministers, also rose from their seats, demanding expulsion of the BJP MLAs who were allegedly involved in cross-voting during the Legislative Council elections earlier this year.

PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beigh said the clemency issue was raised first by the Chief Minister through his tweet about Tamil Nadu Assembly passing a resolution for convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

“After igniting the debate, he should have taken a stand,” he said.

Rashid told reporters that political parties in the state Assembly were sabotaging the resolution seeking clemency for Guru, at the behest of the Central government.

“They are sabotaging my resolution on Afzal Guru. They are doing it at the behest of New Delhi… All of them are involved including PDP, whose members remained silent,” Rashid alleged.

Syed Irfan Aziz, from Sopore, a small town in North Kashmir, India, is currently Executive Editor of the Daily English newspaper INSIDE KASHMIR and is a freelance News Producer in electronic media.