The Rajya Sabha was disrupted repeatedly on Monday over atrocities against Dalits in Punjab, as congress leaders protested the gruesome chopping of limbs of two Dalit men in Abohar district.
After the first half was marred by disruptions, the government tried to take up the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) amendment bill but the ruckus continued.
Rajya Sabha disruptions started as soon as the house met. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on her Pakistan visit last week was drowned out in an uproar by congress members who demanded action against the Punjab government over atrocities against Dalits.
As the external affairs minister stood up to read out her statement on Pakistan visit, congress members promptly trooped to the chairman’s podium, called the government “anti-Dalit” and sought the dismissal of the Punjab government.
The minister read out the whole statement despite the sloganeering. However, it was not clearly audible.
An upset deputy chairman P.J. Kurien told the protesting members: “It is most undemocratic, unfortunate that few members take house to ransom.”
The house was briefly adjourned but when it met again, the scene was no different. Minister of State for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the state government will take action.
Limbs of two men were chopped off on Saturday at a farmhouse allegedly owned by a leader of the ruling Akali Dal in Punjab, as per media reports.
One of the men, Bheem Tank died on the way to the hospital after both his hands and legs were cut off. Gurjant Singh, who lost his one hand was admitted to hospital in a serious condition in Amritsar.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said there was no law and order in the state.
“The incident of Abohar at the farmhouse of a Akali Dal leader... Bheem was Dalit, the way Shiv Lal Doda called him to his farmhouse and chopped off his hands and legs, it is jungle raj,” said Azad.
“The Punjab coalition government is the government of drug and alcohol mafia. There is no law and order,” he said.
Responding to him, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) member Balwinder Singh Bhunder said the man in question was not an SAD member and added that an FIR has been registered and action is being taken.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati called the incident “shameful”. “The alcohol mafia of the state is behind this,” she said.
With ruckus continuing, the house was adjourned till noon.
The scene remained the same when the house met again, and Chairman M. Hamid Ansari adjourned the house first till 12.30 p.m. and then till 2 p.m.
When the house met at 2 p.m., Congress leader Anand Sharma alleged that a trust organising a function to unveil the statue of former Kerala chief minister R. Sankar, had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. However, the invitation to Chandy was withdrawn after pressure from the central government.
Soon after, the government tried to take up the the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, but the opposition continued creating ruckus.
“They talk about Dalits but they do not want to take up the bill to prevent atrocities on Dalits,” Naqvi said.
The house was then adjourned till 3 p.m.