Chaos over clemency: This time outside the Assembly

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“By not discussing the issue of clemency to Afzal this House has exposed itself as slave to directions from New Delhi,” said Engineer Rashid

A day after it stalled the resolution seeking clemency to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the Jammu and Kashmir House went back to its normal routine. However, politics over Guru continued outside the Assembly with Engineer Rashid—the legislator who had moved the resolution—staging a sit-in with his supporters, and eventually coming to blows with police who tried to move him from the spot.

As the day progressed, separatists too joined in the gathering political clamour. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front JKLF supremo Yasin Malik said that “directions from New Delhi” had sabotaged the passing of resolution in the house.

Later in the day, even Peoples Democratic party (PDP) went to town explaining that its silence in the Assembly on the resolution in no way detracted from its stated commitment to vote in its favour. “We didn’t want to raise the din and be blamed for disrupting the proceedings. It was the ruling coalition which didn’t let the house function,” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said at a press conference. “It is the Chief Minister who as leader of the House should have stepped in and brought it to order. He was silent and smiling,” she added.

The PDP also tried to divert the attention away from the resolution by raising the issue of the Assembly tabling the information of the 1300 rape victims in the state. The 90-page document that was distributed among legislators and media has the details about each rape case, name of the victim, her parentage and address besides the name of the accused and the current status of the case.

However, the day again belonged to Rashid, who had brought with him scores of his supporters to protest outside the House. “What would have happened if this Assembly had discussed the resolution? By not discussing the issue of clemency to Afzal this House has exposed itself as slave to directions from New Delhi. Lawmakers here do not represent people. They kowtow to New Delhi to keep their chairs,” said Rashid. “Omar Abdullah tweets but doesn’t pass a resolution. Jayalalitha doesn’t tweet but passes the resolution,” he said.

Subsequently, Rashid along with his supporters were dragged by police out of the Assembly premises. In the process he suffered some bruises on his neck. An ambulance later ferried him to the hospital.

Separatists were quick to seize the issue. Yasin Malik later said that before the start of the session all the political parties in a meeting with the speaker Muhammad Akber Lone had “pledged their cooperation” to stall the resolution.

“Their employers in New Delhi bluntly told them to fall in line. And they did,” Malik said at a press conference. Malik said that if Guru is hanged it will set Kashmir on fire. “Everybody knows the consequences when JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat was executed. History will repeat itself if Guru is hanged. And why should he be hanged if even according to Supreme Court judgment he was not part of either the conspiracy nor the execution of the parliament attack,” said Malik.

Riyaz Wani is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com. 
riyaz@tehelk.com