BJP legislators were expelled from the House

The death of a 62-year-old woman in South-West Delhi earlier this week allegedly due to contaminated water brought the Delhi Assembly session to a standstill on Thursday, with the Opposition BJP disrupting the proceedings. Assembly Speaker Yoganand Shastri adjourned the House three times and was forced to expel all the BJP legislators.

Leader of the Opposition V. K. Malhotra stood up minutes after the session began to request that all proceedings be stopped for the day and the House instead discuss the water contamination problem plaguing the Capital. He referred to the case of Sundara Devi in the Naraina Industrial Area who was rushed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital where she died on Monday. Prof. Malhotra blamed her death on water contamination. “Lakhs of people are getting sick and this is not a simple matter,” he said.

Dr. Shastri did not allow the discussions to take place. This prompted sloganeering and opposition from the BJP legislators and led to a half-an-hour adjournment of the House. It was then subsequently adjourned at 2.55 p.m. and 3.40 p.m. for half-an-hour intervals. Dr. Shastri then expelled all the BJP legislators, who had by then occupied the well of the House and started shouting slogans against the Congress Government.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, also cairperson of the Delhi Jal Board, later made a short statement in the House about the incident. She said Ms. Devi’s death was not due to any water-borne disease.

The most likely cause of her death could be septicaemia and the possibility of haematological malignancy, she said.

“There has been some misleading information about the death of the woman [Sundara Devi]. According to my knowledge, she was suffering from low blood pressure and low pulse rate, and was then taken to DDU Hospital. Had it been due to contaminated water, it would have affected others also,” she said.

Ms. Dikshit said the government had already requested the hospital for a report in the matter. “We do not want to hide anything. We will take the required action if this is wrong,” she said.

In reference to recent media reports of two deaths due to water contamination, Ms. Dikshit said it had been found that in both cases the deaths occurred due to chronic illness and were not attributable to the water supply.

The disruptions in the House came on a day when the Assembly was to adopt recommendations by the Ethics Committee, which spells out guidelines for legislators both inside and outside the House.

The list states that the members will not exhibit or display any kind of papers in the House, will not tear documents in protest, not raise a matter in the House without the permission of the Speaker and avoid sitting on a dharna (sit-in) inside the House.

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