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House session opens with walkout

Guwahati, Dec. 10: The winter session of Assam Assembly started on an acrimonious note today with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) legislators staging a walkout after Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi rejected their demand for an adjournment motion on the issue of illegal arms in the Bodoland Territorial Areas District.

As soon as the day’s proceedings began, the AIUDF members, led by Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya, were on their feet demanding that the Speaker allow the adjournment motion.

Though the Speaker urged the AIUDF members to allow question hour to be conducted, they refused to budge, saying the issue is of urgent nature and should be taken up before any other business.

Mazarbhuiya said the state government had failed to seize illegal arms in the BTAD as a result of which Governor J.B. Patnaik had to intervene and direct the administration to conduct house-to-house search.

Despite repeated requests by the Speaker, the AIUDF legislators refused to relent, forcing him to adjourn the House for 10 minutes.

When the House reassembled, the AIUDF members continued with their demand. When the Speaker reiterated his decision to disallow the adjournment motion, the AIUDF members trooped into the Well shouting slogans in protest.

The Speaker tried to proceed with question hour but nothing could be heard in the din. After half-an-hour of commotion, the AIUDF legislators staged a walkout.

Later, outside the Assembly, chief whip of the AIUDF Hafiz Bashir Ahmed Qasimi said that the ruling party was shying away from a discussion on this “burning issue under an adjournment motion to cover up its failure to control the law and order situation” in the BTAD.

He described the Speaker’s decision as “unfortunate”.

Qasimi said the illegal arms in the BTAD was the most important issue at this moment since more than 100 lives have been lost in ethnic violence and lakhs of people were rendered homeless.

He claimed that there were reports filed by the central intelligence agencies that there are more than 5,000 illegal sophisticated weapons, including AK-series assault rifles, in the BTAD.

He said all illegal arms and even legal arms in possession of civilians in the BTAD must be seized for peace to return to the trouble-torn area and to instil a sense of security among the people.

Hitting back at the AIUDF, chief minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters that the government was ready for a discussion on this issue under any device except through an adjournment motion. “The AIUDF is not sincere about discussing and debating the issue. Their real intention is to gain political mileage out of it by creating ruckus in the Assembly,” Gogoi said.

He also accused the AIUDF of instigating violence in BTAD, which the Opposition party vehemently denied.

In the Assembly, AGP legislator Padma Hazarika sought a CBI inquiry into the suicide by an employee of the irrigation department, Mothur Chandra Nath, and the alleged multi-crore rupee scam in the state irrigation department in which Congress MLA Enamul Haque Laskar is an accused. In his suicide note, Nath blamed Laskar for allegedly driving him to suicide.

Nath had also alleged in his note that before the last Assembly elections in 2011 he was forced by Laskar, who was then an officer-on-special duty in the irrigation department, to collect huge amounts of cash from contractors working for the department to fund his (Laskar’s) election expenses. He further alleged that the contractors are now demanding that the money be returned but Laskar did not respond to these demands.

Parliamentary affairs minister Nilamani Sen Deka said that this issue could not be discussed as it is sub-judice in Gauhati High Court. The chief minister later told reporters that the police were investigating the matter and anybody who is found guilty, even if he is an MLA, would not be spared. Gogoi dismissed allegations that the government shielding Laskar as baseless.


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