A dissatisfied Opposition in the Rajya Sabha today staged a walkout on the issue of blinding undertrials in Bihar despite the Prime Minister’s assurance expressing her “very deep agony” and the Home Minister’s statement owning responsibility for what happened. The government’s assurance that it would order an enquiry by an independent agency and the announcement that the Prime Minister had decided to give ex-gratia relief of Rs 15,000 to each of the victims did not satisfy the Opposition, which thought that the gruesome case deserved a more substantive response from the government. The walkout came at the end of a three-hour debate on what the Opposition described as a barbaric attack by the police. The DMK and a few independents did not join the walkout.
Court Steps In
The Supreme Court today directed two of its officers to visit the Bhagalpur jail in Bihar and give a first-hand report of the eye puncture incidents alleged by the 15 undertrials. Chief Justice Y V Chandrachud and Justice Chinnappa Reddy, who studied the report of the doctor who examined eight of them, said “the incident would shock the conscience of humanity. This is a flagrant violation of Articles 19 and 21”. Meanwhile, a committee of three ophthalmologists has said that the eyesight of six can be saved.
Protests On Sati
Several hundred residents of the walled city watched with curiosity a three-hour confrontation between a dozen articulate demonstrators and a religious procession in honour of Sati at the parade grounds. The demonstrators representing organisations such as the Stree Sangharsh Samiti, Legal Aid Cell for Women (Congress-I), and National Federation of Indian Women protested in front of the shamiana of Rani Sati Sarva Sangha. Two hundred-odd men, women and children of the Sangha shouted counter-slogans and chanted “hymns” to Sati.