Opposition demands Farooq Abdullah’s presence in House, slams govt

Liz Mathew
Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah is still in custody

The Opposition on Monday targeted the government over the detention of National Conference leader and Lok Sabha MP Farooq Abdullah, calling it illegal and demanding that he be allowed to attend House proceedings.

The Opposition also slammed the government for allowing European Parliament MPs to visit Kashmir while stopping Indian MPs at the airport. “Are you not feeling humiliated? Can any one of you go to Kashmir? We have been saying Kashmir is our internal issue, but you have made it an international issue,” Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said during the Zero Hour.

“Our leader Rahul Gandhi was not allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir, several MPs were sent back ...is it not an insult that we can’t go there... migrant labourers were killed, Armymen are dying,” he said.

Opposition MPs led by the Congress rushed to the Well minutes after Lok Sabha met and raised slogans against the government for “attacking the Opposition”. Chowdhury also demanded that former finance minister and Rajya Sabha MP P Chidambaram , who has been in judicial custody since August in connection with the INX Media case, be allowed to attend the session.

Several political leaders of Kashmir, including Farooq, his son and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and PDP chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, have been in detention since August 5 when the government decided to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. The government has said the leaders kept in house arrest as a preventive measure.

“Farooq Abdullah is still in custody. What crime has he committed? It is injustice... there is a constitutional obligation that Farooq Abdullah is brought to the House to attend it,” Chowdhury said.

Speaker Om Birla, who disallowed the adjournment notices moved by the Congress and DMK, allowed the opposition MPs to raise the matter during Zero Hour.

Immediately after the National Anthem was played, TMC MP Saugata Roy stood up and said Farooq was not in the House. RSP MP N K Premachandran raised the matter when he was given a chance to ask a supplementary question related to Finance Ministry. “Farooq Abdullah is not in the House. The House is not in order. I am not in a position to ask any question,” he said.

DMK leader T R Baalu said the Speaker should instruct the government to release the NC leader. “It is illegal detention.. You are under constitutional obligation to bring him into this House. You give an order to the government,” Baalu said. Roy told Speaker, “Either you give an instruction or call the Home Minister to the House for an explanation.”

The Speaker said that when Home Minister Amit Shah informed the House in the previous session that Abdullah was not under detention, he was correct. The written information of his detention was received later by Lok Sabha secretariat and now he has written information that Abdullah is under detention, he added.

At the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee meeting, the Opposition wanted the Lok Sabha to discuss the Kashmir situation, said sources. Representatives from treasury benches at the meeting said they would discuss with Home Minister Shah and allot the time, the sources added.

The Opposition also raised the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Shah in the House.
Chowdhury also referred to the withdrawal of SPG cover of former prime minister Manmohan Singh and the Gandhi family.