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HomedelhiAdhir Ranjan Chowdhury urges Lok Sabha Speaker to revoke suspension of 13...

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urges Lok Sabha Speaker to revoke suspension of 13 opposition MPs

New Delhi: Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Sunday urged Speaker Om Birla to revoke the suspension of 13 opposition members, saying in the wake of the Parliament security breach incident, the MPs were pressing for an explanation from the government on ‘very troubling issues’.

They should be given a fair hearing to allow them to put forth their concerns and point of view, he said in his letter to Birla.

On December 13 afternoon, two men jumped inside the Lok Sabha chamber from the visitors’ gallery with canisters of yellow smoke. They were pinned down by MPs who were in the House during the Zero Hour.

Lok Sabha Speaker Birla on Saturday had rejected suggestions that the suspension of the opposition members was linked to their protests over the December 13 security breach. They were suspended from the House ‘purely to uphold’ its sanctity, he had said.

Raising the issue of breach of security in Lok Sabha, Chowdhury in his letter stressed the urgent need to investigate and take corrective action with regard to the security of the Parliament House Estate. He also called for looking into the factors that led to the youths to indulge in such a ‘brazen act and put themselves, their families and friends into a situation of misery’.

“You will appreciate the fact that the incident of 13th December, 2023, is a world apart from the attack on Parliament House of 13th December, 2001, which was an act carried out by hardcore, well trained and heavily armed terrorists from across the border with the attack resulting in the death of armed personnel of the CRPF, Delhi Police as also of the CPWD and the Parliament Security Service,” the Congress leader said.

Pictures, including media records of the two incidents, make the difference in the two incidents very evident — be it in terms of the type of people involved, scale, intent and purpose behind the acts etc., he said.

“Yet, the recent incident of 13th December, 2023, has also brought to the fore issues relating to the security of the institutions which are the core of our democratic practises and ethos.Since the seriousness of the matter lies in this fact, which relates to our own security, members of the opposition are duty bound to demand an explanation from the government and expect corrective measures to be taken urgently,” Chowdhury said in his letter to Birla.

The sensitivity of the matter and issues involved may have led to ‘heated situations’, and as the custodian of the ‘dignity and decorum’ of the House, the speaker is bound to take remedial action when matters perceivably go out of the hand, he said.

“However, considering the fact that the members who have been suspended on account of ‘unruly conduct’ were pressing for an explanation from the government on very troubling issues, to me, it appears to be appropriate to hear them on their concerns and points of view,” Chowdhury said.

“Considering the factors that led to the suspension of 13 members in the recent days, I would urge that the matter be re-looked into holistically and appropriate action taken for revoking the suspension and restoring order in the House,” he said.

Chowdhury said on December 13 when the two youngsters jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the visitors’ gallery with colour smoke canisters and they even had accomplices outside the precincts of the Parliament house, has caused much consternation in various quarters, including the media and general public.

“As already stated, your authority over matters of security in Parliament House Estate is absolute. However, when viewed from a larger perspective, the security apparatus of the Parliament House Estate is also heavily dependent on the armed personnel of the Delhi Police, Parliament Protection Unit of CRPF and other agencies, including the NSG as well as the intelligence agencies,” he pointed out.

It is primarily on account of factors such as these that following the attack on the Parliament House on December 13, 2001, the then home minister, Lal Krishna Advani, had made a detailed statement on the incident in the House, and members, notwithstanding their party affiliation, solidly stood together in the interest of the nation, Chowdhury said.

“It may be recalled that when the dastardly incident of 13th December, 2001 happened, it was Sonia Gandhi, then president of Indian National Congress, who was the first to call on the then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and home minister Lal Krishna Advani to enquire about their well-being. In the present instance too, it is appropriate for the home minister to make a statement in the House on the incident,” he said.

An added issue that perhaps also needs to be addressed is the ‘protocols ‘and ‘procedures’ for issuing and regulating entry of visitors to witness the proceedings of the House, Chowdhury said.

The prevailing procedures could be reviewed with a view to avoiding a repeat of the breach of security witnessed in recent days, he said.

“I sincerely trust that my letter will be taken in right earnest and all sections are given a fair hearing. Maintaining the dignity and decorum of our democratic institutions is a common endeavour of all sections of the House,” Chowdhury said.

Opposition parties are demanding a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Some members have also sought Shah’s resignation.

The government has insisted that the security in Parliament complex is the responsibility of the Lok Sabha Secretariat and it has been following the speaker’s directives.

It has also cited numerous such violations in the past, accusing the opposition of politicising the issue.

As many as 13 opposition MPs, including nine from the Congress and the DMK’s Kanimozhi, were suspended from the Lok Sabha for the remainder of the session which is scheduled to end on December 22 for unruly conduct.

Opposition parties have slammed the suspension, noting that no action has been taken against BJP MP Prathap Simha, who facilitated the passes of two accused who carried smoke cannisters with them, while their members have been suspended for raising the issue.

(Published 18 December 2023, 00:57 IST)

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