CM Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and NC leader Omar Abdullah condemned the attack on Rashid
Srinagar : Independent MLA Sheikh Abdur Rashid was thrashed by several BJP members in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Thursday, a day after he had hosted a ‘beef party’ here. The incident evoked sharp reaction from the Opposition which staged a protest walkout from the House.
Earlier while Mr Rashid, who is also known as Engineer Rashid and heads regional Awami Ittehad Party (AIP), was being assaulted by BJP’s Ravindra Raina and some other party MLA, several Opposition lawmakers rushed to save him. Soon after the House assembled for the day’s business, Mr. Raina got up from his seat and attacked Mr. Rashid.
Some other BJP members joined him to strike the Independent MLA with punches and jabs. In the ensued scuffle, Mr. Rashid hit back but was overpowered by BJP legislators. The scenes were reminiscent of fighting witnessed in Ukrainian parliament. The intervention of Opposition members broke off the scuffle. But not before, the house was gripped with pandemonium.
The Opposition termed the attack on Mr. Rashid as “murderous assault”. Condemning it, former Chief Minister and Opposition National Conference (NC) leader, Omar Abdullah, sought to parallels between attack on Mr. Rashid and lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq, a Muslim man in Dadri by a Hindu mob on September 30. He also termed the attack as ‘gunda gardi’ which he said was ”condemnable and unacceptable”. He also said that the manner in which BJP MLAs pounced on Mr. Rashid was aimed at killing him. “If we had not rescued Rashid, you (people) would have killed him,” he said.
Left miffed over the government response over thrashing of Mr. Rashid, the Opposition led by Mr. Abdullah staged walkout in protest. However, Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was quick to condemn the act even though his deputy and senior BJP leader, Dr. Nirmal Singh somehow justified the act asking, “what about our sentiments”.
The deputy chief minister while voicing his rage over Mr. Rashid ‘beef party’, he said, “He has hurt the sentiments of crores of Hindu. What about that.” Mr. Abdullah said, “Our religion doesn’t permit liquor and pork but that doesn’t give me a license to stop members of this House who take liquor or pork.” He accused the BJP of killing the people in broad day light. “It (attack on Mr. Rashid) was done in same way as was done in Dadri,” he said
Chief Minister, Mr. Sayeed while condemning the incident said that such acts are uncalled for. “This is a peoples’ House and everyone should be listened,” he said, adding, “but the incident is condemnable.” He asked the deputy chief minister Mr. Singh to tender an apology to the House. On this Mr. Singh stood up and said , “Everyone body has a right to put forth his view point. Whatever happened Wednesday evening in MLA hostel is condemnable.” He also said, “We condemn thrashing of Er. Rashid. It is unfortunate.” As he was speaking, the Opposition members were chanting slogans against the government. Mr. Singh while responding reiterated, “Are there only your sentiments? Don’t we have the sentiments?”
Not satisfied with the explanation, Mr. Abdullah asked the Chair, “We are suspended and what you do now (against BJP legislators), will be seen.” With that he led the Opposition in the protest walkout from the House.
The House is scheduled to take up private members’ bills seeking repeal of 120-year-old law that bans slaughter of cow and other bovine animals and sale of beef in the State.
Mr. Rashid had on Wednesday evening hosted a ‘beef party’ in the lawns of MLA hostel in Srinagar, with the guests being served beef kebabs, ‘ristas’ (meat balls) and beef patties to show contempt to the law. Justifying the move, he had said, “the purpose of the get-together was to give a clear and louder message to legislatures, power corridors, judiciary and other institutions that nobody needs permission what to eat and what not and that interference in religious affairs and fundamental rights would not be tolerated”.
He had also said that the event by no means was organised to hurt anyone’s sentiments. “In fact, it is stupid and unacceptable to see it from that angle,” he said adding that the legislatures should read writing on the wall and must foil all the efforts to sabotage the bill he has moved before the Assembly and which seeks revocation of ban on beef. “Legislature and other institutions need to understand that religious rights cannot be made controversial by dragging them to courts or any assembly”, he added.
Earlier this week, the State Assembly witnessed ruckus and violence over the beef ban issue. This was on the same day when Supreme Court put in abeyance for two months an order passed by a bench of the J&K High Court on September 8 asking the police to strictly enforce relevant provisions of the State’s own Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) that ban slaughter of cow and other bovine animals and the sale of beef.
While the Jammu-based division bench of the High Court had ordered banning the sale of beef in the state, another operating from Srinagar recently entertained a PIL against the ban and sought explanations from the State government on the issue. In view of the conflicting orders, the State government moved a petition in the Supreme Court pleading these have grave ramifications for the law and order situation in the State, ‘as the orders are being misused and interpreted to disturb peace’. The apex court directed the Chief Justice of the state to constitute a three-member bench to look into the order passed on the PIL challenging beef ban in the Srinagar branch of the court.
This came at a time when the State Assembly secretariat had received several private members’ bills again the beef ban including one from Mr. Rashid. Speaker Kavinder Gupta who has, so far, not allowed discussion on the issues in the House has listed these bills at the tail end of the Assembly’s brief autumn session.
Section 298-A, 298-B, 298-C and 298-D of the RPC declare slaughter of bovine animals including cow and the sale of beef punishable offences.
Source : Asian Age