Flickers of the last week’s Syed Ali Shah Geelani led separatists rally held in Srinagar, reached the Parliament on Thursday with a virulent Opposition seeking to put the government on the mat. It culminated into the BJP-led Opposition staging a walkout in Lok Sabha while the Upper House had to be adjourned for the day amidst pandemonium.
As reported in these columns on Thursday, the issue had figured prominently in the third roundtable conference on Kashmir held here on Tuesday on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s initiative.
Having failed to force the government to respond to their assertions on the episode, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance staged a walk-out in Lok Sabha. Assurance by Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee that the government will respond at an “ appropriate time” failed to pacify them.
Not only did they demand Geelani’s arrest, the protesting members also questioned the Centre and the state government’s role in permitting the rally.
In Lok Sabha, BJP’s deputy leader V K Malhotra raised the issue during Zero Hour. Recalling that the rally was attended by the masked men carrying Lashkar flags, he sought to know as to why no action was taken against Geelani for inciting anti-India sentiments. “Why isn’t the government condemning his actions,” he asked.
Malhotra was backed by the entire NDA spectrum. “What was the state government doing when the rally was being held,” JD-U’s Prabhunath Singh asked. He wanted to know the reasons behind the Union and the state governments’ “silence” on the issue.
On his part, Gurudas Dasgupta described the separatist rally as “dangerously outrageous for the country” and felt the event has deeply hurt the nationalist feelings in the country. He was of the view that the issue should not be “ enlarged” to affect the peace efforts. “The ongoing process of normalisation in J&K should continue and all such attempts to fail it should be countered,” he added.
As soon as the Rajya Sabha assembled for the day, the BJP MPs raised the issue. They also demanded that the Centre should take the political parties into confidence on Kashmir peace process and forced the first adjournment.
The protesting members walked into the well of the House demanding Geelani’s arrest when it met after the adjournment. Amidst the din, Chairman Bhairaon Singh Shekhawat adjoured the House for the day.