Scurvy debate in the Assembly

By K.N. Pandita

The tone and tenor of the debate on adjournment motion on Monday last was most disgusting. It dealt with the hanging of Afzal Guru.

Should legislative assemblies initiate a debate on the verdict of the Apex Court of the country? This question was raised by one of the members. The house was not prepared to react to the constitutional propriety of a debate on SC verdict; it rushed on to the debate itself.

Is the assembly a place where elected representatives come to ventilate their pent up anger and angst or to speak about the problems of the people and suggest ways and means of solving these?  

Should an assembly and its elected members consider themselves above the nation and fundamental national interests? Do they enjoy the freedom of denigrating prestigious national institutions in assembly debates just to cater to regional or sub-regional, narrow and parochial interests?

The debate was on the hanging of a person who belonged to Kashmir valley. He was indicted for conspiring attack on the parliament which took the precious lives of at least nine guards. The criminal case was established by going through the full judicial process over a period of eleven years. Death penalty was announced by the Apex Court which had given Guru all facilities and time to defend himself before the law of the land.

Any debate on the adjournment motion had to remain confined to the subject of execution of a criminal. There was no need to dabble in extraneous issues and arouse the sentiments of the legislators.

The opposition had the freedom granted by the Speaker to react on the event. They enjoy the authority of stepping out of the limits of this debate but they did.

Most unfortunately, the opposition tried to give the event a communal colour and went to the extent of saying that the Indian government was targeting a particular community.

This is tantamount to the contempt of Supreme Court and deliberate attempt of violating the Constitution of the country.

The opposition and those who joined their voice with it, cast aspersions on the central government, the judiciary, the judges of the supreme court and the entire structure of the Union Home Ministry. In the process, they targeted the Chief Minister accusing him of not intervening and “saving the life of a Kashmiri”.

These are seditionist trends because there is not any reflection of an iota of national interests in these utterances. An assembly that has become so parochial does not at all qualify to be called the real voice of the people.

Here is a Kashmiri proved through sustained prosecution by a court of law to have worked as the key person in a conspiracy aimed at blowing up the Parliament and killing the MPs. If the opposition MLAs feel it their right to question the hanging of the conspirator, the MPs whose life was attempted at have the right to question the survival of the culprit.

It is the same parliament that has constitutionally accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir. It is the same parliament that is protecting Article 370 against erosion. It is the same parliament that sanctions enormous grants in the shape of annual budgets and plans for the development of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the same parliament that has helped J&K raise its income per capita as the highest in the country.

And it was a Kashmiri youth who wanted to blow up the same parliament, and decimate the parliamentarians. And now it is the opposition in J&K Assembly that wants to paint the assailant as a hero and freedom fighter. That, in short, is the content of the assertions of the opposition in the assembly.

Not a single word was uttered against terror unleashed by Afzal Guru and his terrorist background. Not a word was said about the killing of nine guards of the parliament’s protective force by the terrorists. Not a word of sympathy was uttered for the families of those victims. But yes, there was hard breast beating for Guru and his family.

We know that these antics are all fake and frivolous. There is no sincerity at the root. It is only to whip up the sentiments of the people and to win political mileage by sensitizing electoral constituencies to communal, parochial, and national or sub-national sensitivities. For six long years as the PDP remained out of power, it did not rake up the issue of parliamentary attack. It could not because it knew it would be standing on very slippery ground.

Now that the event has happened, the opposition finds a pretext to nail down the ruling coalition. This is called politics on the dead bodies. Kashmir medieval history is replete with such accounts of sycophancy and blackmail.

Prosecution of Afzal Guru stretched over nearly eleven years. During all these years, J&K assembly never raised the issue, never asked for a debate on the subject and left it to the natural course of law.

Why this hullaballoo now? Where was the so-called Kashmir patriotism all these eleven years? Obviously, sections of political class had been waiting for an opportunity that would be handy to stir public commotion. This is the repeat of past experience, the Amarnath yatra issue and the stone pelting incident.

How long will Kashmir masses be misled and duped by half-baked politicians? How long will they let them to play with their sentiments?

The case of execution of Afzal Guru is a case of law and order. The law comes down with a heavy hand when it must. In political parlance, its precise name is the might of the sate.

J&K is an integral part of the Indian Union, and it shall remain so till eternity. Yes, we have internal issues and problems. These have to be resolved through rational and logical debates in the assemblies where opinions are to be expressed not anger.

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