Police action on women MLAs

Speaker G. Karthikeyan abruptly adjourned the day’s sitting of the Assembly on Wednesday following strong protests from the Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) demanding the suspension of the police officers responsible for allegedly attacking two women legislators during the course of a demonstration called by a Left women’s organisation here seeking Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien’s resignation in the Suryanelli case.

The House had been temporarily adjourned for two hours earlier and discussions with leaders of the political parties did not find a solution to facilitate continuation of the second day’s debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address. The Opposition stepped up its demand for the suspension of the police officers when Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan refused to commit himself to ordering their suspension. He asserted that the government had ordered an inquiry by the Additional Director General of Police (South Zone) and affirmative action would be taken on receipt of the inquiry report. The Minister’s contention was that the CPI MLA E.S. Bijimol (who earlier made a statement in the House about the police attack on her) did not specifically mention the names of the erring police officers. In the light of this fact, only an inquiry would help indentify them and facilitate further action, he maintained.

VS’s intervention

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan wanted to disclose the whereabouts of the other woman MLA, Geetha Gopi, who, he claimed, was arrested by the police, that too when the Assembly was in session. CPI(M) Legislature Party deputy leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan alleged that the Home Minister had misled the House by denying the arrest of Ms. Geetha Gopi. His statement was contrary to the message got by the Speaker, who had been informed that she was removed by the police. The Home Minister tried to correct his position by admitting that Ms. Geetha Gopi had indeed been removed by the police. This sparked further protests, with Opposition leaders shouting slogans in the well of the House. The Speaker then abruptly announced the adjournment for the day.

The Opposition bench was calm in the forenoon since most of the leaders were outside, either participating in an agitation demanding Prof. Kurien’s resignation or attending the marriage of Congress MLA Palode Ravi’s daughter. But the first signs of trouble started when Mr. Achuthanandan made the announcement about the MLAs’ arrest. The Home Minister bought some time, but matters became complicated for the ruling bench when Ms. Bijimol, escorted by Mr. Achuthanandan, walked in. Deputy Speaker N. Sakthan, after initial hesitation, allowed her to make a statement. But this did not satisfy the Opposition members, who moved to the well of the House demanding action. This forced the Deputy Speaker to announce the temporary stoppage of the House business.