Turbans tossed, lawmakers hurt in Punjab House melee
The speaker ordered suspension and eviction of AAP legislators for protesting nonstop after which the watch and-ward staff physically removed the suspended MLAs from the assembly after prolonged jostling.punjab Updated: Jun 22, 2017 22:45 IST
Bedlam prevailed in the Punjab assembly on Thursday with the turban of an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator allegedly tossed and two other legislators taken to hospital with injuries.
The speaker ordered suspension and eviction of AAP legislators for protesting non-stop after which the watch and-ward staff physically removed the suspended MLAs from the assembly after prolonged jostling.
Jagraon MLA Sarabjit Kaur Manuke and Nihal Singh Wala MLA Manjit Singh were admitted to Government Medical Super-specialty Hospital in Sector 16, Chandigarh. Both were carried out of the assembly complex on stretchers, as they fell unconscious after their eviction.
Leader of opposition HS Phoolka later claimed that turbans of three party legislators – Manjit Singh, Pirmal Singh and Jai Kishan Rody – were tossed in the melee. There were allegations of blows being exchanged between the Marshals and MLAs. The tossing of turbans saw legislators of AAP and Shiromani Akali Dal join forces to protest against the speaker and the Congress government. Both parties hit out at speaker Rana KP Singh.
Phoolka termed it “murder of democracy” whereas SAD president Sukhbir Badal said the speaker was acting like a “dictator”.
Trouble began as soon as the question hour started with AAP MLA Kanwar Sandhu raising the issue of two suspended members, Sukhpal Khaira and Simarjeet Bains, not being allowed to enter the assembly complex. Phoolka and other party members joined him in demanding that Khaira and Bains, who were suspended for rest of the budget session last week, be allowed into the assembly premises. Khaira is from AAP and Bains belongs to Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), its alliance partner.
As the speaker ignored their demand, they rushed to the Well of the House, raising slogans against the speaker and the government. The AAP members continued slogan-shouting for 15 minutes before escalating the situation by trying to get on to the speaker’s podium.
A few MLAs jostled with the Marshals – male and female staffers of the watch-and-ward staff who formed protective chains – whereas some others tried to jump over them. The speaker ‘named’ (assembly jargon for suspension) all AAP and LIP and instructed the marshals to evict them from the House. The suspended members refused to leave and were physically evicted.
The SAD-BJP members also staged a ‘symbolic’ walkout with them only to return within 10 minutes and resume their protest. SAD member Bikram Majitha said that the members had the right to protest, but their turbans and dupattas were tossed. They, too, rushed to the Well of the House, trying to push around the marshals, before staging another walkout. The SAD-BJP legislators returned a few minutes later with suspended AAP and LIP members in tow. The speaker then adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
Before the House resumed, the watch-and-ward staff swung into action to try and remove the suspended members. The AAP members clung to their tables and clasped each other’s hands to resist eviction. The marshals picked almost all the AAP members, including Phoolka, one by one and carried them out of the House, even as some Akali legislators unsuccessfully tried to block the doors.
In turmoil that last about 15 minutes, the protesting members flung assembly papers towards the speaker. Majithia came to the House minutes later with a “tossed-up” yellow turban of an AAP MLA. Objecting to the treatment meted out to AAP legislators, the SAD-BJP members again jumped into the Well of the House, shouting slogans and throwing paper missiles at the speaker.
The speaker immediately suspended all the protesting members, instructing the marshals to evict them, and adjourned the proceedings for some more time. However, the SAD-BJP members walked out of the House. And the proceedings went on smoothly thereafter sans the opposition.