Legislators from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the Opposition Congress traded blows and abuse in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday, as tempers rose over the recent incidents of violence in Ludhiana city.

Trouble began immediately after question hour when Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon allowed Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the Home portfolio to make a statement on the Ludhiana episodes. Led by Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Congress MLAs demanded the restoration of zero hour or discussion allowed over the adjournment motion submitted on the issue.

As Mr. Badal continued to read out the statement, the Congress MLAs rushed to the well of the House and were seen jostling with the watch and ward staff. Raising slogans against the government, they approached the seat of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal. Heated arguments turned into mutual abuse. This was followed by jostling, pushing and punching leading to a free-for-all. In the melee, turbans of Congress MLAs Kewal Singh Dhillon and Darshan Singh Brar as well as Akali member Virsa Singh Valtoha were removed, while some others received punches and scratches on their faces. Agriculture Minister Sucha Singh Langah and senior Congress leader Brahm Mohindra fell down.

Subsequently, the Speaker adjourned the House till the afternoon of Wednesday. Earlier he had adjourned the proceedings for an hour. The Congress members staged a noisy demonstration when the House re-assembled. Amid the din, the report of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), was accepted by a voice vote.

Terming the developments as “most painful and a disgrace to democracy in the country,” the Chief Minister said that he still could not understand the reason for which the Congress chose to disrupt a statement on the very issue which they wanted to raise in the House. They could have offered their criticism after listening to the statement, he said.His son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also president of the Akali Dal said the real issue was the factional strife within the Punjab Congress. “To take away the spotlight from the road show by Amarinder, the Leader of the Opposition, Ms. Bhattal devised a floor show,” he said, alluding to a tour launched by the former Chief Minister in Gurdaspur district.

Meanwhile, Ms. Bhattal has said that a Congress delegation would apprise the Governor of the developments. In a letter to the Speaker, she demanded an unconditional apology from the Chief Minister and expulsion of some Akali members.