The killing of two Muslim cattle traders in Jharkhand in March triggered a ruckus in the Rajya Sabha on Friday as the government maintained it needs to ascertain the facts behind the killing while the opposition demanded a house committee visit the affected area and probe the facts.
The issue was raised by Ghulam Rasool Balyavi of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U).
“They were part of an old trade of buying and selling cattle... They were brutally hanged. I think even the British did not do this to Indians,” said Balyavi.
“The chief minister does not think the minorities are Indians, it seems,” he remarked.
He also alleged that at a local police station relatives of the victims were beaten up and told to go to Pakistan.
Almost the entire opposition came out in support of Balyavi, after which Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi intervened.
“The member made an emotional speech... but what is the truth. There isn’t as much truth as the speech was emotional. Yet, I will talk to the state government about the allegation,” Naqvi, who is also minister of state for minority affairs, said irking the opposition further.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad came out in support of the JD-U member, and said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the subject.
“Houses have been burnt, minorities have been beaten up... and the minority affairs minister is questioning if it is true. This is extremely sad,” he said.
Opposition members from diverse parties were seen raising the pitch in protest. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, who was present in the house, then asked Naqvi to sit down.
Naqvi, however, reiterated that he will get the facts from the state government and added: “No such thing should happen which can disturb the communal harmony of the nation.”
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said that whatever Balyavi has said should be taken on “face value”.
Heptulla then said: “I will write to the chief minister (of Jharkhand)... We will get facts and find out what happened. If this happened, it is very bad. But I urge the member not to get emotional, though I know it is a very emotional issue...”
An angry opposition, however, did not let the minister complete her sentence.
Azad slammed the government for “failing” to protect the minority communities.
Naqvi, meanwhile, said there should be a debate on the communal situation in the country.
“The game of communalism that is going on in the name of secularism... We request you to have a debate on the communal atmosphere in the country, things will be clear then,” Naqvi said.
Opposition members, however, demanded that a house committee should be formed to go and probe the facts on the ground.
Members from the Congress and JD-U trooped near the chairman’s podium, raising slogans and demanding dismissal of the Jharkhand government.
Azad, amid the ruckus in the house, said a committee of the house should be constituted to probe the ground situation.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury also suggested a house committee, and asked Kurien to forward the request to Chairman Hamid Ansari.
“It is two months since this incident has happened. The government did not do anything. Now there should be penal action against them; it is a communal issue, it comes under the domain of national issues,” Yechury said.
Kurien then adjourned the house for five minutes before question hour.
In mid-March, two Muslim cattle traders were found hanged to death in Latehar district of Jharkhand. Five suspects were arrested later, including a person associated with a local cow protection vigilante group.