The Budget session of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly began on a stormy note as opposition held protests against the PDP-BJP government and continued sloganeering even when the national anthem was being played, with Governor N N Vohra cutting short his address to both houses of the legislature and leaving amid the pandemonium.
As the Governor entered Central Hall of the Legislature, opposition members from National Conference, Congress, CPI(M) and other Kashmir-based Independent MLAs stood up carrying placards and held protests against the government for its alleged failure on all fronts.
Some of the opposition leaders were also sporting black bands. The National Anthem was being played when the Governor entered and some of the opposition members, who were holding protests against the PDP-BJP government over the deaths in Kashmir during the unrest in the Valley, continued with their sloganeering. The protestors stopped the sloganeering for some time Carrying placards, the opposition members tried to disrupt the Governor’s address thrice.
In his speech to both houses of legislature, the Governor prayed for peace and normalcy in the New Year and hoped all members will strive hard to restore brotherhood and amity in each of the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
“I will conclude by reiterating my belief that Jammu and Kashmir has a very high potential of being developed as one the leading states. To achieve our goal we need to resolve all disagreements and strive hard to put the state on the path of development,” he said.
He said it is important that this House sets thoughtful standards of political discourse and paves way for narrowing the differences in regard to political and societal issues cutting across party lines.
“If this is done we would succeed in laying foundation of sustainable peace in this state”, he said.
Batting for commencement of Indo-Pak dialogue, he said, “It is important that the Indo-Pak dialogue resumes early.It is imperative that we work towards the resolution of conflicts first within our civil society and then in the polity”.
As pandemonium broke out in the Central Hall, the Governor cut short his speech. Members of the National Conference and Congress continued their protests and sloganeering when the national anthem was being played twice during the address. Amidst protests and sudden conclusion of his address, the national anthem was played again and members of the opposition were sloganeering. The Governor also left the venue.
BJP demanded an apology from opposition included Congress and NC in Jammu and Kashmir and asked Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi to clarify their stand on disrespect to the national anthem by its members “It is most unfortunate that members of opposition disrespected the anthem. This is shameful…It is the first time such a disrespect has been shown to the national anthem in J&K”, BJP MLA Ravinder Raina told reporters here.
“The opposition should tender an apology to the nation and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Vice President Rahul Gandhi should clear their stand on the behaviour of their legislators,” Raina said.
“We will raise the issue in Assembly and seek answers from these parties for disrespect to the anthem”, he said. Reacting to the protests, Government Spokesman and PDP Minister Naeem Akhter told reporters that whatever happened today was very unfortunate and sad.
“These MLAs belonging to the opposition are experienced …I think they have lost the plot. If this is the beginning, I don’t know how they are going to conduct themselves for rest of the session”, he said.
Asked about the disrespect shown to the anthem, NC MLA and Provincial President Devender Singh Rana said, “Please ask BJP people who became champions of nationalism. They created an environment of anarchy in the state. Ask PDP who created such an environment. They created such a situation”.
“Please ask them to answer as to why there was disrespect to the anthem today. We have not disrespected the anthem…It was the ruling party which provoked us. It was their conspiracy. Please ask them”.
Slamming the opposition, Akhter said, “Whatever they wanted to raise should have been done on the floor of the House and the government would have accordingly replied to their questions and concerns”.
BJP MLA Raina charged that the Congress and NC don’t want the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to improve and peace and normalcy restored.
“This government is working very hard to improve the situation in Kashmir Valley and development works have also started but opposition is hell bent on derailing peace which can be witnessed from the protests and unruly behaviour of the opposition”, he said demanding that they apologise.
Speaking to reporters outside the assembly, leader of the Congress Legislative Party, Nawang Rigzin Jora said, government should give account of those who died during the Kashmir unrest.”They should give account of the pellet gun injuries…It is a killer government.It is a pellet gun sarkar,” he charged.
National Conference MLA and party general secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar alleged that over 100 people were killed and a large number injured due to pellet guns during the unrest.
“We are representatives of the people.We demand replies from them. And today s protest is because of the failure of this government,” he said.
CPI(M) MLA and senior leader M Y Tarigami charged that that government imposed martial law-like measures here as if something big and untoward was going to happen here and the opposition protests were a result of this.
“The tradition of placement of treasury benches and opposition benches was changed. When the Governor came, we raised the issue of killing of people in Kashmir Valley. We wanted a reply from the government. The opposition demanded ban on pellet guns, stopping of human rights violations and imposition of Public Safety Act and random arrests”, Tarigami said.