Amidst disturbances, the opening day of the week saw Rajya Sabha discussing the violence in Jammu region with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, fielded in place of indisposed Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, arguing that it was local in nature.
Asking members not to over-extrapolate the violence that led to a curfew in the region, flag marches by the Army, and a controversy over Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley’s detention in the region, Mr. Chidambaram contested suggestions by some members that the tension and violence was linked to terrorism and external aggression.
The minister sought to delink the communal violencefrom the separatist movement as well as the current military tension along the Line of Control.
Mr. Chidambaram also commented on the prevention of Mr. Jaitley’s visit to Kishtwar, and the subsequent furore over the issue by BJP members, saying the call was taken by the local administration. Mr. Jaitley stated that “the country’s sovereignty and integrity was at stake” and asserted that the violence was not merely an inter-community clash. BJP members called the decision to detain their leader “undemocratic”.
Referring to the restrictions imposed in areas in Kashmir under Section 144 [which prohibits protests, demonstrations and processions by 5 or more persons], Mr. Chidambaram said it is a “status-neutral and gender and caste-neutral section of the law.” The House reconvened in the morning on Monday to four separate issues: anger over Mr. Jaitley’s treatment in Kashmir; calls to ‘save’ Andhra Pradesh; protests by Left Party MPs against the Kerala solar scam controversy; and the Bahujan Samaj Party’s anguish over the death of a Kishtwar district unit President’s son who was murdered during the violence. While most protestors relented eventually, TDP members persisted in chanting slogans and refused to move from a spot near the Chair of the House. K.C Tyagi (Janata Dal United)’s threat of retaliating in the same manner quietened the TDP members and they sat down, near the podium, in silence.
It took several adjournments and a frank Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to restore order in the House, after which most leaders were allowed to briefly speak on the issue.