Civilian killing 'spark' sets the House on fire

Civilian killing 'spark' sets the House on fire

Opposition stages walkout, boycotts CM’s speech; Have ordered magisterial probe into Kulgam killing, says minister

Pandemonium broke out in the legislative assembly on Wednesday over killing of a youth by government forces in Kulgam district on Tuesday, with the opposition staging a walkout and also boycotting the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s speech.

22-year-old Khalid Ahmad Dar of Ghat Khudwani village was killed following protests over killing of a militant—also a resident of Khudwani—in Kokernag area of Anantnag on Tuesday.

As soon as proceedings of the House commenced this morning, the opposition members stood up and demanded an answer from the government over civilian killings and “growing” human rights violations in Kashmir.

Carry banners which read “stop human rights violations, stop civilian killings”, the opposition members trooped into the ‘well’ to seek action against the forces involved in Khalid’s killing.

Shouting slogans “PDP-BJP sarkar hai hai, Nagpur sarkar hai hai, qatil sarkar hai hai”, the legislators including Abdul Majid Larmi, Ishfaq Jabbar, Muhammad Amin Bhat and Gulzar Ahmad first stormed into the ‘well’ and were soon joined  by other opposition members.

“Every day, innocent people are being killed in Kashmir. You are responsible for the prevailing situation,” National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sagar told the treasury benches.

“When we raise these issues, you accuse us of raising non-issues. Are these killings not an issue?” he asked.

Amid commotion, the speaker continued with the question hour, even as the opposition repeatedly created disruptions.

“Forces are spraying bullets and pellets on innocent people in my constituency. One lakh people participated in the funeral of the slain youth (Khalid),” NC’s Majid Larmi said.

As Larmi and Bhat tried to reach to the speaker’s podium, the marshalls, deployed in strength in the Well, prevented them from doing so.

“If both the Centre and state governments are making claims that the situation is improving in Kashmir, then why are civilian killings taking place?” NC’s Devinder Rana asked.

He said that those who raise voice are being responded with bullets and ‘lathis’ by the government.

“The government has to be made accountable for the killings,” he said.

Amid further commotion, the opposition shouted down the minister for roads and buildings Naeem Akther when he was responding to some questions relating to his ministry.

This led to a heated exchange of arguments between Akther and the opposition members, with the former too reacting sharply to the opposition barbs.

In the meantime, the speaker told the opposition that they should have submitted a notice if they wanted a discussion on civilian killings.

“This government is so incompetent that we didn’t deem it appropriate to submit the notice,” NC’s Rana responded.

He said that Kashmir is burning, Jammu is simmering and Ladakh is crying due to the government’s follies and incompetence.

Amid chaos in the House, all the opposition members including former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah staged a walkout.

As they were leaving the House, legislator Er Rashid accused the opposition of being “themselves involved in bloodshed of Kashmiris.”

Soon, Rashid took the government head-on over civilian killings and created disruptions in the Well.

Later, the speaker ordered the marshalls to evict him.

After the question hour ended, the opposition returned to the House, demanding answer from the government over Khudwani killing.

Responding to the opposition, minister for parliamentary affairs Abdur Rehman Veeri said that the government has ordered a magisterial probe into the killing. “The government is equally concerned whenever an innocent is killed,” he said.

This did not satisfy the opposition that decided to boycott the chief minister’s reply to the motion of thanks on the governor’s address.

“We only read about her concern in statements in newspapers, but this concern is never visible on the ground,” Omar said, referring to chief minister’s absence in the House.

As opposition members were leaving, Mehbooba appeared in the House, but all the opposition members, following Omar, walked out in protest against human rights violations.