Rajya Sabha disrupted over Gujarat Dalit issue
New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha faced numerous disruptions on Wednesday as opposition members demanded a debate on atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat’s Una town, where protests have continued with one Dalit committing suicide.
The Dalit who killed himself on Tuesday was among the five persons from the community who tried to take their own lives in separate incidents in Gujarat.
The upper house faced several adjournments through the day, even as Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot gave clarifications, and later Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tried to pacify the opposition by stating that a debate on the issue would be taken up on Thursday.
As soon as the house met, opposition members from various parties, including the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Trinamool Congress, and the Congress raised the issue and said they had submitted notices for a debate.
Even as Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien was scrutinising the notices, agitated opposition members trooped near the chairman’s podium, raising slogans against the government.
Following this, the house was first adjourned for ten minutes.
When the house reassembled, Minister Gehlot said that the Gujarat government has taken action against the culprits.
Amid sloganeering and protests from opposition, Gehlot said: “An FIR has been registered and action has also been taken under the act for atrocities against Dalits. Government is also providing financial assistance to the Dalit families.”
The minister said probe was ordered into the incident, and the report will come in two months.
He expressed regret at the death of the Dalit who consumed poison.
“Some people consumed poison and one of them died. This is sad. They will also be provided financial help,” Gehlot said.
The minister, however, added that the issue should not be “politicised”.
An unrelenting opposition, however, continued to raise slogans, standing near the chairman’s podium, following which Kurien adjourned the house till 12 noon.
When the house met for question hour at noon, the scene was the same, forcing Chairman Hamid Ansari to adjourn the house first till 12.31, and then till 2 p.m.
The scene was no different post-lunch either.
As opposition members agitated, Naqvi said a short duration discussion on the issue will be taken up on Thursday.
“There will be a discussion on the matters related to Dalits across the country tomorrow. It is not right to create a ruckus when the issue is going to be debated,” Naqvi said.
He also attacked opposition members for raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“You are saying Prime Minister should quit… he did not become the Prime Minister because of you, he became the Prime Minister by the mandate of people,” he said.
Naqvi also said the compulsory afforestation bill which was listed for discussion was in favour of the Dalits and the Scheduled Tribes.
Kurien made several attempts to pacify the members, but the protests continued, forcing the adjournment of the house till 2.30 p.m., and then till 3 p.m.