Article 370 Row: Assembly adjourned 7 days before schedule

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Shahid Wani::::::::

In an unexpected move, the J&K Legislative Assembly was Wednesday adjourned sine die to save the PDP-BJP Government from further embarrassment over differences on Article 370. Both the Assembly and Legislative Council were adjourned seven days before the schedule, drawing strong criticism from the opposition which termed it as “murder of democracy.”

As soon as proceedings of the House began this morning, entire opposition stood up, asking the Speaker about his decision on the remarks made by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the House on Monday.

“Nothing is more anti-national than talking about abrogation of Article 370,” the CM had remarked on Monday. PDP’s partner in the government, BJP, had taken umbrage at the comment, exposing the differences within the ruling coalition.

Amid din in the House, National Conference working president and former CM Omar Abdullah reminded the Speaker about his yesterday’s announcements.

“Have you examined records? Then tell us what decision you have taken,” Omar said. He also asked the Speaker when will the CM come to the House for clarification on the matter.

“We did not ask for clarification from the CM. You told that Chief Minister would talk on the matter,” he said.

MLA Langate Er. Rashid supported Omar Abdullah’s demand.

The Speaker said: “I have examined the records and she (Mehbooba Mufti) did not mean anything as such. She had said that some people want to create a situation in Kashmir so that people of only one colour and one dress live there.”

The Speaker’s remarks triggered strong protests in the House, with opposition accusing him of misleading them.

Shouting anti-PDP and anti-BJP slogans, entire opposition tried to storm into the Well which was packed with Marshals.

“You should have brought Army and pellet guns here,” the opposition sarcastically remarked on presence of Marshals in the House.

As pandemonium prevailed, some opposition MLAs tore off papers and threw chairs and mikes in the Well. The chaos prevailed in the House for more than three minutes forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for 30 minutes.

Even as the House was adjourned, NC MLAs Abdul Majid Larmi and Muhammad Akbar Lone came close to exchanging blows with Forest Minister Lal Singh. However, Marshals separated them to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn.

In the meanwhile, a mike fell on the head of a Marshal. Luckily, he was not injured. The NC members alleged that Lal Singh hurled abuses on Larmi.

When the House re-assembled at 11:00 a.m, similar situation prevailed. Raising anti-Government slogans, opposition members again stormed into the Well.

As opposition continued with protests, the Speaker announced that the House has been adjourned sine die – surprising members of opposition as well as those present in the media gallery.

“This has been done to save Mehbooba Mufti’s Government. This is match-fixing between PDP and BJP,” the opposition alleged. “This is murder of democracy.”

The House, as per calendar approved by the Speaker, was to run till 7th February.

Later, the opposition staged protests against the PDP-BJP Government for adjourning the Assembly sine die.

Members of NC and Congress staged a sit-in in front of Civil Secretariat building and later marched towards the main entrance of the secretariat.

State Secretary CPI(M) and MLA Kulgam Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami said the Speaker’s decision to adjourn the Assembly ahead of its schedule is harmful for maintaining the sanctity of the legislature and democracy in Jammu and Kashmir.

“This is a serious matter and harmful for democratic process in the state,” he said, adding “The Speaker didn’t take into consideration the aspirations and concerns of the members which is not a good sign and can harm the essence of democracy.”

He said: “The whole episode makes it clear that coalition partners are at logger heads and it is an alliance for the chair, not for protecting JK’s special status and offering a dignified life to people.”

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