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Monday, June 13, 2016

NC, Congress call for Lal Singh's dismissal as Minister

Opposition rejects Governor’s address to Legislature with walkout, calls for security to Jammu Muslims

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, May 25: With National Conference and Congress putting up a joint demonstration, calling for dismissal of the Forest Minister Lal Singh and seeking security to the Muslims of Jammu, the Opposition on Wednesday boycotted Governor’s address and staged a walkout on day one of the Budget session of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature.

Reminiscent of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s protest demonstrations as the leader of opposition in the past, NC and Congress legislators obstructed Governor Narendra Nath Vohra’s joint address which, for the first time, took place at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre. The Budget session commenced with Governor’s ceremonial address jointly to all members of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council at the SKICC.

As Governor began reading out the achievements and vision of development and governance of the PDP-BJP coalition, headed by Mehbooba Mufti since April 4 this year, almost all the MLAs and MLCs of NC and Congress got up and began shouting slogans for revocation of the implementation of National Food Security Act  (NFSA). They also shouted slogans, demanding Lal Singh’s dismissal as Forest Minister. They alleged that Lal Singh had used offensive language against the Gujjar community and threatened to wipe out Muslims of Jammu with his reference to the communal riots of 1947 when a delegation of the community had gone to meet him at his home in Jammu last week.

With NC and Congress legislators, including several former Ministers, in the forefront, the Opposition shouted "Bhashan nahi ration dou", "Lal Singh ko barkhwast karo", "Lal Singh ko hata dou" and "Jammu kè Musalmanoo ko tahfuz dou". After shouting slogans and thumping desks for about 15 minutes, almost all the Opposition legislators walked out in protest. Leader of the Opposition and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was conspicuously absent as he was reportedly in France.

Parallel to the NC-Congress show, independent MLA Engineer Rashid waved a banner asking what had happened to the magisterial enquiry into the killing of five civilians in the wake of alleged molestation of a 16-year-old girl by a soldier on April 12. He wanted to know whether Additional DC of Kupwara had submitted his report or not. Neither Chief Minister nor any other member from the Treasury Bench responded to Engineer Rashid.

The opposition members later staged a dharna for half-an-hour at the SKICC entrance even as Governor continued his address and the legislators and Ministers of PDP, BJP and Peoples Conference heard him with full respect. They alleged through slogans and banners that the PDP-BJP Government was taking dictation from the RSS headquarters of Nagpur and implementing the Hindutva agenda in Jammu and Kashmir.

With the mainstream opposition taking a tough stand against Lal Singh’s alleged harassment and insult to the Gujjar delegation which the Minister has denied, the separatist opposition too joined hands to mount pressure on the government. Almost all the separatist outfits and alliances, including Hurriyat Conference and JKLF, have called for total shutdown in Kashmir on Thursday.

Expressing solidarity with the Muslims of Jammu, particularly the minority Gujjar community, the separatists have demanded Lal Singh’s termination as a Minister. They have also said that the shutdown would be against the State Government’s purported plans of setting up fenced colonies for Kashmiri Pandit migrants and soldiers besides the proposal of alloting land to non-J&K industrialists on long term lease.

Apprehensive of trouble, Mehbooba Mufti’s government launched a crackdown while arresting JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik and holding other prominent separatist leaders under house arrest.


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