"You petty clerk", "You dacoit", "Who would stole horses?" "Your **** leader does not match Omar Abdullah's shoe sole" and unprintable abuses.
These are not shouts from any street brawl but "minutes" of the board meeting chaired by senior Congress minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir in north-eastern district of Bandipora district, 50 km from Srinagar, on Tuesday.
A district board meeting attended by senior ministers, MLAs and MLC from ruling National Conference (NC) and opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) turned ugly today when three senior leaders -two from PDP and one from NC - came close to blows and hurled abuses.
Sources said the incident, which has come as an embarrassment to the mainstream political class of the Valley, occurred when PDP's local MLA Nizamuddin Bhat flagged development issues in the meeting. To which, NC leader and state higher education minister Akbar Lone interjected saying no such issues will be addressed through the board.
"You have been boycotting the state assembly and demand redressal of issues now. Pay for the boycott now," sources quoted Lone as saying.
Bhat objected to Lone's remarks and referred to the chief minister's "incompetence". "Don't take name of Omar sahib. Your ***** (PDP leader) does not match the shoe sole of Omar sahib," retorted Lone.
PDP MLC Naeem Akhtar objected to Lone's remarks, insulting the PDP leader, and asked the board chairman to rein in Lone. The exchange of sarcastic remarks turned ugly further when these leaders started calling names to each other. While one leader called another a "petty clerk", the latter replied with calling him a "dacoit".
"It was the repeat of what he did in the assembly," Akhtar told the HT, while referring to the past brawls of Lone, former assembly speaker, who publicly abused two senior PDP leaders Mehbooba Mufti and Iftikhar Ansari. One video of Lone abusing a legislator has gone viral on social networking sites in the past, raking a major controversy.
Minister of state for animal and sheep husbandry Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, Member Parliament Shariefuddin Shariq and Congress MLC Ghulam Nabi Monga were seen pacifying the leaders coming close to hit each other.
Despite repeated attempts, no NC leader agreed to comment on it. Even the Congress minister, who chaired the meeting, did not respond to calls made by this newspaper.
However, the official statement, describing the meeting a success said, "Bandipora gets an outlay of Rs.70.17 crore under district plan for current financial year."