NEW DELHI: Fifty Congress MLAs were on Tuesday evicted and suspended for a day from the Gujarat Assembly after they staged a demonstration and disrupted the House proceedings over the Una Dalit flogging incident.
During a discussion on atrocities on Dalits in Una, Congress members rushed to the Well of the House displaying placards saying the BJP government was “anti-Dalit” and also threw bangles towards ruling party ministers.
At least 20 of the members wore body suit banners as they continued with their protest despite repeated warnings by Speaker Ramanlal Vora on the second and last day of the Monsoon session here.
As the din refused to die down, the Speaker ordered marshals to evict them from the House. Then he named and suspended them for a day. Subsequently, Congress MLAs were forcefully taken out of the House.
The Speaker then remarked that the Opposition came with a pre-planned strategy to protest over Dalit issues as more than their concern for Dalits, they were trying to garner political mileage out of it.
Two leaders–Congress leader of Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela and senior leader Mohansinh Rathwa–remained seated during the ruckus. The Speaker had not suspended them but later they too walked out protesting the action of Vora.
Earlier, the Assembly session began with a heated debate over the issue of Dalit atrocity in the state, with senior Congress leader Raghavji Patel raising the issue of attack on Dalits at Samter village after the Dalit Asmita rally on August 15 as a matter of urgent public interest under Gujarat Assembly Rule 116.
He sought answer from the government as to what actions were taken to provide security to Dalits in the event of the attack.
Minister of State for Home, Pradipsinh Jadeja in his reply said that Dalits were attacked at Samter village when they were returning from the rally on Independence Day.
He said police fired 51 teargas shells and several rounds in the air to protect them. In the process, 7 police personnel including one DySP and a police inspector, were injured, Jadeja said.
Following this, Congress leader Vaghela demanded a judicial inquiry through a sitting High Court judge into the Una incident of beating Dalits over skinning of a dead cow on July 11.
Vaghela said the CID inquiry initiated by the government is not trustworthy. Upon this, Chief minister Vijay Rupani said the government will act with responsibility to ensure safety of Dalits, and asked opposition to work together to protect the interest and safety of Dalits.
Raghavji alleged that the Dalits were attacked because they were not provided adequate police protection (in Samter case).
Jadeja said police have filed 11 FIRs against the perpetrators (in all Dalit atrocity case as a whole) and required measures were taken and immediate help was provided.
Upon this, Congress Dalit leader Shailesh Parmar rose and demanded a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge in the Una Dalit atrocity incident.
He also questioned as to why the Sanjay Prasad report on 2012 Thangad killing of three Dalit youths by police, and a CEPT University report on untouchability in Gujarat, were not yet tabled in the House.
Responding to this, Jadeja said Thangadh incident report was under consideration, and added that government has formed a Special Investigation Team to investigate the Thangadh incident. The government has also requested the High Court to constitute a designated court for this.
A heated debate ensued over this with Congress leader Manibhai Vaghela alleging that the Una incident was a pre-planned conspiracy to destabilise Gujarat government and remove Anandiben Patel as chief minister.
On this remark BJP MLA Jayantibhai Kavadiya made some comments and Manibhai twice threatened to lodge a case against him. This caused chaos in the House with the chief minister assuring that the BJP government is with the Dalit community.
The 182-member Gujarat Assembly has 57 Congress MLAs, 2 NCP, 1 JDU, one independent and 121 legislators of the ruling BJP.