[Blood-curdling story of Dalit struggle for self-determination ; Dalit: The Black Untouchables of India book by V.T. Rajshekar ]
Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessed heated exchanges as Congress members alleged “atrocities” on dalits in Punjab, evoking a sharp response from the government as well as the state’s ruling party Shiromani Akali Dal which accused the opposition of “misleading” the House.
The House saw a walkout by Congress, Trinamool Congress and RJD over the issue.
The SAD-BJP government of Punjab came under attack from Jyotiraditya Scindia of Congress who cited crime figures to allege that a case of atrocity against Dalits was taking place every 18 minutes and three Dalit women were raped every day.
He then referred to the chopping of limbs of two Dalit youths in Punjab recently and another incident in which a woman was allegedly run over by a bus whose owner, he alleged, was close to the ruling Badal family in the state.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu accused Congress of misusing Parliament to “defame” the state dispensations.
Reacting strongly to his, Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, leader of SAD and daughter-in-law of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, accused Congress of trying to destabilise the state government and stall development by raking up all kinds of issues in Parliament.
She alleged that Congress leaders were supporting demand for Khalistan.
Regarding the hand-chopping incident, Ms. Kaur accused Congress of politicising the issue of a “gang war”. She said in this “gang war”, limbs of a Jat Sikh were also chopped off but the opposition party was not talking about it as Jat Sikhs were not its “vote bank.”
She said most of the accused have been arrested and others named in the case would also be nabbed soon.
Hitting back at Congress, she cited figures of “atrocities” against Dalits when Congress was in power.
Earlier, while many BJP members protested against the decision to allow Mr. Scindia to raise the issue in the Zero Hour after his party’s hour-long protests in the Well, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said 300 members were suffering from “dictatorship of a few.”
The Speaker, who had earlier cautioned members against raising state issues, disallowed him and expunged his comments against the family.
When Ms. Kaur, wanted to reply, the Speaker told her that it would put the reference to her family on record.
Batting for her right to reply, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said people had already heard Mr. Scindia on TV and Ms. Kaur should be allowed to respond.
As members of Congress, TMC and RJD walked out, she alleged that some Congress leaders in Punjab were supporting the demand for Khalistan. “You are taking no action against them. You are trying to destabilise the state,” she said.
Mr. Naidu accused Congress of “misusing the forum of Parliament to defame and destabilise a democratically-elected government” and questioned its practice of first protesting in the House and then staging a walkout after raising an issue.
“It cannot be a one-way traffic. You first abuse, then walk out,” he said, adding that Congress members were “abusing” the prime minister.
To Congress demands for dismissing government in Punjab over the hand-chopping incident, Mr. Naidu wondered whether governments in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh should also be dismissed over the murder of M.M. Kalburgi and Dadri lynching, respectively.
With BJP members on their feet when Mr. Scindia spoke, Ms. Mahajan said “rights” of everybody were being affected, a reference to daily protests by Congress members.
She said she would meet with leaders of all parties to find a way out.
Amid the uproar, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge too wanted to speak but was disallowed.