Echoes of summer unrest disrupt J&K legislature (Roundup)

Jammu, Jan 2 (IANS) The budget session of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature began on a stormy note on Monday, with opposition members creating ruckus over a deadly unrest that left nearly 100 people dead in the valley in the last summer.

A ruling BJP member accused the opposition of insulting the national anthem as they didn’t stop protesting when it was played after Governor N.N. Vohra hurriedly ended his speech amid the din.

As soon as members assembled in the upper house of the bicameral legislature, National Conference and Congress leaders flashed placards that read “stop killings”, “release protesters”, and raised anti-government slogans over the killings of civilians in Kashmir Valley during the five months of turmoil after the July 8 killing of militant leader Burhan Wani.

They also protested the use of force by security forces against protesters that injured thousands.

Amid the uproar, Legislative Council Chairman Haji Anayat Ali read obituary references and repeatedly requested the protesting members to calm down. However, after the ruckus the opposition members walked out.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sparked a row when she allged that the National Conference was responsible for pushing Kashmiris to militancy after the rigging of the 1987 assembly elections.

“People who sowed seeds of secession by demanding plebiscite in the state also rigged elections in 1987 to give birth to militancy,” Mufti said.

The National Conference members took exception to the remark and retorted that the Chief Minister’s father, the late Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, was part of the National Conference-Congress government in 1987. They asked Mehbooba Mufti if she can also hold him responsible for the alleged rigging of the polls.

They disrrupted Governor N.N. Vohra constantly when he began addressing the joint sitting of the two houses later.

The protesting members gathered near Speaker Kavinder Gupta’s podium and didn’t relent even as the Governor continued his address.

Vohra hastily ended his address, reading only the first and last paragraphs of its printout. He called for working towards the resolution of conflicts and emotionally regretted the loss of lives during the months of the unrest.

“I call upon this august house to play a leading role to establish it as a very strong institution of functioning democracy. The disturbances and violent conflicts…have engendered a worrisome decline in our social norms, relations and hierarchies and stands of political discourses,” he said in the address, a copy of which was given to the media later.

“The irreparable pain of losing someone we love is not unknown to us. While the political rhetoric may result in keeping us at odds, our grief brings us together — whether of a mother who has lost her young soldier son on duty at the Line of Control or of a mother whose child has been killed by a tear gas shell or blinded by pellets.”

He urged all, including “parents, protesters, politicians and the law enforcers”, to “introspect seriously and identify what we should or could have done better or differently”.

On the issuance of domicile certificates to refugees from west Pakistan, the Governor said the state government has facilitated their identification to enable them to get work in the paramilitary forces and other central government establishments.

“This identification does not change the status of the west Pakistan refugees. They continue to be non-state subjects.”

The house was adjourned and the national anthem played.

Ruling alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ravinder Raina alleged that the National Conference and Congress created ruckus when the national anthem was being played.

“Even the Governor walked away. This is grave insult of the anthem,” Raina said, demanding apology from the National Conference, the Congress and the Governor.