New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar forcefully said Thursday that she would not adjourn the house and recalled the sacrifice of the nine who died protecting parliament from a terror attack 11 years ago. But her pleas fell on deaf ears and the house was repeatedly adjourned over demands for the hanging of attack accused Afzal Guru and the coal allotment scandal.
There was ruckus in the Lok Sabha with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena demanding the hanging of Afzal Guru, sentenced to death for the terror attack on parliament, while Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members gathered near the speaker’s podium over coal scam.
The house was first adjourned till 11.30 a.m., then till noon and the third time till 2 p.m.
The house observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to the nine people killed in the Dec 13, 2001 attack. The bedlam began soon after as members of BJP and Shiv Sena gathered near the speaker’s podium shouting slogans demanding that Afzal Guru be hanged.
Meira Kumar’s repeated requests to members to run the question hour were to no avail.
“I will not adjourn the house today. We have just paid tributes to people who gave their lives protecting parliament. Did they give life for this,” she asked sternly.
But this had little impact, and members of both parties continued with the sloganeering, forcing the speaker to first adjourn the house till 11.30 a.m. and later till noon.
As house met again, BSP members gathered near the speaker’s podium over allegations of irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, forcing another adjournment till 2 p.m.
Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shahsi Tharoor expressed sadness over repeated disruptions.
“Sad that we mourn those who gave their lives to defend this institution of parliament and then betray it daily by disrupting its functioning,” he said on Twitter.
Parliament was attacked by five armed Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists. Nine people were killed and over 15 injured in the attack.
Four people – Afzal Guru, Delhi University professor S.A.R. Geelani, Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru and her husband Shaukat Hussain Guru – were arrested in connection with the case.
Geelani and Afsan were let off for lack of conclusive evidence. Shaukat Hussain Guru’s death sentence was commuted to 10 years’ imprisonment and he is now out of jail.
Afzal Guru was sentenced to death Dec 18, 2002 by a trial court, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court Oct 29, 2003. His appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court Aug 4, 2005.
His mercy plea is pending, and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said he will study the file after parliament’s winter session ends Dec 22.
The BJP has from time to time been demanding Afzal Guru’s execution. The demands have become shriller after Mumbai terror attack accused Ajmal Kasab was hanged Nov 23.