Haryana budget session: Congress MLAs create ruckus seeking Sandeep Singh’s ouster
The principal opposition in the Haryana assembly, Congress on Monday stepped up the pedal for the ouster of the minister of state, Sandeep Singh, who was booked on January 1 by the Chandigarh Police for allegedly sexually harassing and assaulting a junior athletics woman coach.
The principal opposition in the Haryana assembly on Monday stepped up the pedal for the ouster of the minister of state, Sandeep Singh, who was booked on January 1 by the Chandigarh Police for allegedly sexually harassing and assaulting a junior athletics woman coach.
Congress MLAs led by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda created disorder in the assembly on the opening day of the budget session. All this while the minister was not present in the House having taken a leave of absence.
Soon after the obituaries were read out and the House paid its respect to the deceased, the Congress MLAs flashed placards with ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ written on it and demanded that the minister of state should be sent packing.
Hooda demanded that Sandeep Singh should put in his papers, or the chief minister should sack him.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who all along has defended his cabinet colleague, stayed steadfast. Thumping the wood, the chief minister restated his stance. “Istifa nahi lenge, nahi lenge, nahi lenge (We will not ask Singh to resign till allegations against him are proved),” Khattar said. This enraged the opposition benches and the Congress MLAs condemned Khattar’s remarks.
Even as the rest of the Congress MLAs staged a symbolic walkout, five Congress women legislators led by Jhajjar MLA Geeta Bhukkal stayed put and raised slogans against the BJP government. Bhukkal accompanied by Shakuntala Khatak (Kalanaur), Renu Bala (Sadhaura), Shailly (Naraingarh) and Kiran Choudhry (Tosham) remained insistent that the minister of state should be sacked. “Kanoon ki dhajjiyan ud rahi hain. (The law is being torn apart),” Bhukkal said.
When Bhukkal pointed out that it was rather unfortunate that the chief minister was grinning on such a serious issue, assembly speaker Gian Chand Gupta jumped to Khattar’s defence. “He is smiling at the manner in which Congress MLAs are behaving,” Gupta said.
Gupta also said that an inquiry is being marked into the allegations and action will be taken consequent to its outcome.
The slogan raising, however, didn’t stop and the Congress MLAs continued to raise the decibel levels of the House. Faridabad NIT MLA Neeraj Sharma said that the government’s ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ was a hollow slogan. Sharma along with party colleagues Aftab Ahmed and Chiranjeev Rao condemned the Haryana government for its apathetic approach.
Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that investigation into the allegations against Sandeep Singh should be handed over to the CBI since the accused is an influential individual.
Later at a press briefing, Hooda said that to save the minister accused of sexual harassment, the BJP government is giving a go by to tenets of morality. “Due to this attitude of the BJP government towards crime against women, Haryana today lags in the matter of women’s safety,” he said.
Gupta said that a special investigation team is investigating the matter. He can’t be declared guilty without the completion of the investigation, he added.
To pacify public outrage, Sandeep Singh had on January 1 announced that he would give up his sports and youth affairs portfolio. However, he was divested of the sports portfolio only a week after being booked by the Chandigarh Police.
The FIR against Singh was registered at Chandigarh’s Sector 26 police station under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or criminal force with intent to disrobe), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. Later, Section 509 of the IPC was also added to the FIR. Section 509 is invoked for uttering any word or making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman. If proven guilty the accused faces simple imprisonment for three years along with a fine.
House pays tributes to prominent personalities
The House on Monday paid tributes to prominent personalities who passed away since the previous session. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda read out the obituary resolutions. Those who paid homage included former ministers Jagdish Nehra and Dharambir Gaba, former MLAs Bhagwan Sahai Rawat and Balbir Singh Grewal and former deputy speaker Ved Pal. The House also paid homage to 12 soldiers from Haryana who showed indomitable courage and made the supreme sacrifice while safeguarding the country. These included Subedar Mahender Kumar of village Paiga in Mahendragarh, Havildar Jogender Singh of village Sunarian Khurd in Rohtak, Havildar Ashok Kumar of village Kotia in Mahendragarh, Havildar Narender Singh of village Shadat Nagar in Rewari, JCO Parmod Kumar of village Bahadurgarh in Jind, Naik Raj Singh of village Sasroli in Jhajjar, Naik Sandeep Yadav of village Jeetpura in Hisar, Naik Arun Kumar of village Kakrala in Mahendragarh, Sepoy Bheru Singh of village Amarpura in Mahendragarh, Sepoy Amit of village MP Majra in Jhajjar, Sepoy Happy Singh of village Fagu in Sirsa and Sepoy Manoj Kumar of village Pili Mandori in Fatehabad.