Opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha walked out of the House on Wednesday after raising the issue of the detention of National Conference (NC) leader and former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who has been under house arrest since August 5, when the Union government abrogated J&K’s special status accorded in Articles 370 and 35A.
“Three former chief ministers, including Farooq Abdullah, are languishing in jails for the past six months. They have been put behind bars without giving any proper reason,” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.Stating that a sitting Member of Parliament is being detained illegally, Mr. Chowdhury demanded his release.Congress chief whip K. Suresh, who had given an adjournment motion on the issue, first raised it but was cut short by the Speaker. “It is the responsibility of the government and the House to ensure his welfare [Mr. Abdullah’s] and that the NC leader gets to exercise his right as an elected representative,” he said.When the Speaker did not allow Mr. Suresh to complete what he was reading from a text and asked other members to speak during Zero Hour, members of the Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), NC and the Muslim League trooped into the well of the House and started raising slogans for the release of Mr. Abdullah.‘Close JNU’Amidst the sloganeering, BJP MP from Ballia (Uttar Pradesh) Virender Singh demanded the temporary closure of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for “indulging in anti-national activities”.“It [the University] was meant to give an opportunity to poor students but that has not been the case. People there are indulging in anti-national activities and doing Jinnah’s politics [late All-India Muslim League founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah] just like them [Congress/Opposition MPs],” Mr. Singh said.At this point, members from the Congress, DMK, NCP and NC walked out of the House.Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay then raised the issue of Mr. Abdullah’s incarceration and said the issue was also raised during the all-party meeting.“I would request the government to intimate this House at least about his health condition. The principal Opposition party would not have had an opportunity for a walkout if the government had done so,” the Trinamool leader said.Siachen shortageEarlier, Mr. Chowdhury had raised the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on the acute shortages faced by soldiers posted in Siachen.The CAG’s report, tabled in Parliament on Monday, pulled up the Army for the delay in the procurement of clothing, equipment, snow goggles and multi-purpose boots required to be provided to soldiers serving in high-altitude areas.“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure clothing and all other items required by soldiers posted at Siachen are provided as they are guarding the nation is such difficult terrain and hostile weather,” Mr. Chowdhury.