Members of the opposition disrupted governor NN Vohra’s address on the first day of Jammu and Kashmir assembly’s budget session on Monday and shouted slogans while the national anthem was being played prompting the BJP to demand an apology.
The commotion began even before the governor’s joint address to both the houses as NC members distributing placards saying “Stop Using Pellet Guns”, “Remove PSA”, etc, met with resistance from PDP MLA Yasin Shah. It led to a heated exchange between Shah and NC MLA Altaf Wani and MLC Bashir Veeri among others.
National Conference, Congress, CPI(M), and few independent members started shouting as the governor was to about to begin his speech. He started his address after waiting for a few moments but the protest did not die down.
There was a minor scuffle between marshals and protesting members, who were trying to ‘gherao’ the governor. The commotion forced Vohra to cut short his address within 10 minutes during which he was stopped on three occasions.
The ‘united’ opposition came with placards and some even wore black to register their protest against the summer’s unrest in the valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahiddin commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
Anticipating trouble, the authorities did not make separate sitting arrangements for the opposition and ruling coalition members this time.
The entire opposition shouted anti-government slogans, saying “Qatil Sarkar Hai Hai” and “Stop innocent killings in valley”. Later, they staged a sit-in protest outside the central hall of J-K legislature.
The J-K assembly’s budget session is expected to be a stormy one, with the opposition making its intention clear to corner the Mehbooba Mufti-led government on the law and order situation and the months-long unrest in the valley.
“Where is the vision of Mehbooba Mufti? Where is the political dialogue? This government imposed a curfew on Eid, we were not allowed to read namaz. We want to make the government accountable for the tyranny it has unleashed on the masses. We have every right to raise the voice against people’s suffering,” senior NC leader Ali Mohammed Sagar said.
CPI(M) MLA MY Tarigami accused the government of imposing a marshal law in the valley and said that hundreds have been illegally confined in various jails in the state.
Congress legislature party leader and MLA Nawang Rigzin Jora said the situation deteriorated in the valley due to the ‘unholy alliance’ of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and BJP.
“It cannot be said that there was ‘unrest’ in the valley or it was a law and order problem, but it was an ‘uprising’ and death of Burhan Wani was just a ‘trigger,” Jora said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded an apology from the opposition, especially from Congress, for disrespecting the national anthem.
“No one is above the nation and everyone has the right to protest, but not in such an unruly manner. Disrespecting the national anthem is not acceptable,” BJP legislator Ravinder Raina said.
Education minister and senior PDP leader Naeem Akhtar termed the ‘ruckus’ by the opposition during governor’s address as unfortunate.
“Both disruption of governor’s address and disrespect of the national anthem are regrettable. They (opposition) have only slogans and are not concerned with the issues confronting the masses. For us, people’s issue are of prime concern. Let’s hope better sense prevails and we have trouble free session,” Akhtar said.
Parliamentary affairs minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said it was a “pre-panned programme” to disrupt the governor’s address and an irresponsible act by the opposition that “clearly shows their desperation”.
“We (PDP) never disrespected the national anthem or disrupted the governor’s address. We never threw placards on the governor or protested by standing on our seats,” he added.
Later, both NC and Congress members walked out of the Upper House during the obituary references.