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Srinagar attack: Does our duty get over after paying homage to victims? asks Sushma

The opposition on Thursday accused the government of failing to check terror strikes in the country, including Wednesday's attack in Srinagar in which five CRPF personnel were killed.

delhi Updated: Mar 14, 2013 19:47 IST

The opposition on Thursday accused the government of failing to check terror strikes in the country, including Wednesday's attack in Srinagar in which five CRPF personnel were killed.

"The external affairs minister treats Pakistani Prime Minister to a sumptuous lunch when he comes to Ajmer Sharif and just four days later, this terror attack happens. ... We should unite and challenge Pakistan," Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour.

"I salute the Diwan of Ajmer Sharif (who refused to welcome the visiting Pakistani Premier last week). He did what the government could not do," Swaraj said, seeking a response from the government on the Srinagar terror strike.

She lamented that "the front row of the treasury bench was empty when the House was condoling the death of the CRPF personnel earlier today. Neither the Leader of the House (home minister Sushilkumar Shinde), nor senior ministers or the UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi) were present when the Speaker was making the obituary reference. It is a sad situation."

"Does our duty get over after paying homage to the victims every time a terror attack takes place? They come here and behead our soldier; they dress up as sportsmen and carry out suicide attacks. How long will this continue?" she asked.

Swaraj said it was "very shameful" that every other day Pakistan was attacking Indian soldiers, including beheading one of them recently, and "there is no reaction."

"We got some assurance when the visa on arrival (to Pakistanis) was stopped and the Prime Minister made a statement that business as usual will not do", but the attacks happened again, she said.

Heated exchanges took place between members of National Conference (NC) and the BJP, when Swaraj said, "These attacks are occurring when there is a demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)."

As soon as Swaraj spoke of AFSPA, NC members Sharifuddin Shariq and Mirza Mehboob Beg were on their feet shouting that the law, which gave stringent powers to the armed forces, should be withdrawn, prompting BJP members to rise and shout back.

Beg and Shariq shouted back saying "hundreds of our youth have been killed, our party workers have been killed and maimed and nobody sheds tears for them." An agitated Shariq also came into the aisle a couple of times.

They were supported by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party's Shailendra Kumar, who wanted the Chair to allow them to speak.

Prasad also said "BJP's agenda is being discussed and we are not being heard. You should allow them (NC members) to have their say."

Following the heated exchanges, Swaraj told the NC members "today is not the day for us to challenge each other but to challenge Pakistan unitedly" and asked Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to make a statement.

After the Home Minister's statement, members of the SP, RJD and AIMIM walked out saying they were not allowed to speak on such an important issue.

As they left the House, the Speaker asked them to give a notice for holding a debate on the matter.

Parliament stalled

Question Hour was stalled in both the Houses of Parliament on Thursday as UPA constituent DMK and opposition members created uproar over the arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka and the terror attack in Kashmir.

DMK and AIADMK members trooped into the well of the Lok Sabha while three AIADMK members squatted in the well of the Rajya Sabha demanding that the government make efforts to ensure release of over 50 fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan navy.

In the Lok Sabha, trouble began as soon as Speaker Meira Kumar made an obituary reference to the five CRPF jawans killed in a terror attack in Srinagar on Wednesday.

Leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj demanded a statement on the attack from home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was not present in the House.

BJP members were on their feet raising slogans against the government and demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Shinde's presence in the House.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Pawan Singh Ghatowar's assurance that the home minister would make a statement at noon failed to pacify the opposition members.

DMK, AIADMK, CPI and VCK members were in the well, waving placards demanding the release of Indian fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan navy.

The speaker made repeated appeals to the members to return to their seats and raise the issue during Zero Hour. As members were unrelenting, she adjourned the House till noon.

In the Rajya Sabha, V Maitreyan (AIADMK) raised the issue of fishermen and soon rushed to the Well and reached close to the podium.

When chairman Hamid Ansari warned him, Maitreyan along with his two party colleagues N Balaganga and A Elavarasan squatted in the well.

Ansari then adjourned the House till noon.

Earlier, Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said that in the month of March alone, six incidents of arrests of fishermen have taken place and demanded a permanent solution to the problem.

As soon as the House met for the day, BJP members demanded suspension of the Question Hour to discuss Wednesday's terror attack in Srinagar.

They, however, resumed their seats after parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath gave an assurance that home minister Sushilkumar Shinde will make a statement in Lok Sabha at noon and then in the Upper House.

First Published: Mar 14, 2013 12:56 IST