The PDP-BJP government on Thursday ensured that the anti-beef ban bill could not be taken up for discussion in the J&K assembly but was still left red-faced after BJP legislators assaulted Independent MLA Engineer Rashid inside the House for hosting a “beef party” the previous evening at the MLA hostel.
With former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah drawing parallels between the assault and the Dadri lynching last week, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Nirmal Singh had to apologise for the incident after being asked to do so by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Ruckus in J&K Assembly, BJP MLA Ravinder Raina beat up Engineer Rashid for hosting a beef party. pic.twitter.com/akV8AF4RnL
— ANI (@ANI_news) October 8, 2015
On Thursday morning, minutes before the House was to begin proceedings, a group of BJP MLAs led by Ravinder Raina pounced on Rashid, dragged him towards the Opposition benches and started beating him. Rashid was rescued by National Conference (NC) members even as Nirmal Singh came in between the MLA and his party’s legislators.
“What we saw today…it is difficult for us to believe and accept it — an attempt to kill a member and that too inside the House,” Omar said. “In my religion, liquor is prohibited but would I, in this House, start to beat those who take liquor? In my religion, pork is prohibited. In this House, would I start to beat those eating pork? We respect your sentiments but for God’s sake, we have sentiments too. They should also be respected.”
An emotionally charged Omar then referred to the Dadri lynching. “People are raising fingers at you about Dadri. You have proved it,” he said when the BJP members stood up to protest. “You (BJP members) pounced on him (Rashid) and it seemed from your eyes you were to murder him. If we hadn’t rescued him, you would have killed him. It was done in same way as was done in Dadri,” Omar said.
Responding to Omar’s demand for an apology, the Chief Minister said he condemned the incident and then asked Deputy CM Nirmal Singh to apologise. “Our Engineer (Rashid) was mishandled. I condemn it. There should be no physical violence. I ask the Deputy CM to stand and speak. We should maintain the dignity of the House,” said Mufti.
Singh, however, said: “We don’t approve of it (assault). Whatever happened on Wednesday evening at MLA hostel is condemnable.”
The Opposition, however, was not satisfied and forced Mufti to ask Singh for an explanation. This time, Singh condemned the incident but stopped short of an apology. “We condemn the thrashing of Engineer Rashid. It is unfortunate,” Singh said. As the Opposition members started raising slogans, Singh shouted: “Are there only your sentiments? Don’t we have the sentiments?”
This led to a walkout by the Opposition. The NC members finally returned after being persuaded to do so by Law Minister Basharat Bukhari.
Rashid too defended his action. “Beef was banned under the state’s Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and the High Court had ordered its implementation. But a Supreme Court order suspended its enforcement for two months in the state,” Rashid told reporters. “I didn’t use the Hostel’s facility and brought food from outside. I had no intention of hurting anyone’s sentiments. You will find many bottles of liquor at the MLA hostel. If they can have alcohol, why can’t I have beef?”