The Telegraph
Saturday , July 19 , 2014
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Tribute to fliers stirs cry for Gaza

New Delhi, July 18: Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari’s reference today to the Malaysia Airlines crash in Ukraine triggered a demand from the Opposition for a similar reference to innocents killed in Palestine.

“The death of so many passengers and crew is indeed tragic and sad. I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences to the people who have lost their near and dear ones in the crash,” Ansari said. Members rose and observed silence as a mark of respect to the 298 passengers and crew on the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight that was shot down yesterday.

But Opposition MPs, who have been insisting on a discussion on the Gaza conflict, then asked why silence was not observed for people dying in Palestine.

Sitaram Yechury said everyone supported the chairman in condoling the deaths of the crash victims. “But I wish you made a similar reference to the innocent people dying in Gaza today. I don’t know why that has been missed out,” the CPM MP said, adding the UN had also done it.

The Congress’s Pramod Tiwari asked the government why it was trying to “escape” from a discussion.

For two days, the House has seen disruptions on account of disagreement between the treasury and Opposition benches on a short-duration discussion on Gaza. The government announced today that it was ready for one on Monday.

Yechury cited UN figures that 75 per cent of those killed in Gaza are civilians, 46 per cent are children, and 12 per cent are children under five. Such a scene merits a humanitarian consideration at least, he said.

“Forget all the politics of it. I think, condoling these deaths, a reference must be made by the Chair,” Yechury urged the chairman.

Ansari did not give in, saying the government had already agreed to a discussion on Monday and condolences could be expressed then.