Opposition demands suspension of police officers

The Rajasthan Assembly was adjourned for the day on Thursday following noisy scenes over the continuing agitation of lawyers and their clashes with the police in Jaipur for the second consecutive day. Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party members staged a walkout in protest against the police crackdown on lawyers.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, BJP Whip Rajendra Rathore said the police had used “excessive force” against lawyers demonstrating near the Assembly when Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was presenting the budget. He demanded suspension of police officers and registration of a criminal case against them, alleging that even women lawyers were beaten up without any warning.

Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the ruling Congress must take the initiative to end the deadlock and warned that the situation could go out of hand unless an urgent action was launched to redress lawyers’ grievances. He had a spat with Minister of State for Home Virendra Beniwal who justified the police action.

Mr. Beniwal informed the House that the lawyers, who were holding a meeting in the District Courts complex at Bani Park here on Thursday morning, spilled out on the road and clashed with the police when the latter tried to push them inside.

“Lawyers burnt a PCR van and hurled stones on the policemen, leaving a Deputy Commissioner of Police, a head constable and a constable injured,” he said.

Referring to Wednesday’s police action, Mr. Beniwal said the police had to use force to maintain law and order when the lawyers marching towards the Assembly building uprooted barricades and indulged in violence. The BJP MLAs took exception to the Minister’s claim that the lawyers had received injuries in the stone-pelting by their own colleagues.

Mr. Beniwal assured the House that the State Government would “sympathetically consider” the demands of lawyers if they were placed in a conducive atmosphere. He pointed out that the Chief Minister had made a budgetary provision of Rs.10 crore for the Lawyers’ Welfare Fund this year.

The Assembly was adjourned for the day when dissatisfied BJP members created a din and did not allow the House to function while demanding an immediate action in the matter.

Lawyers have launched an indefinite strike in all the courts from Thursday. Their demands include a residential project on subsided prices, a monthly stipend for new practising lawyers for five years and the enactment of a Lawyers’ Welfare Act.

The issue of allotment of sandstone mining contracts to Mr. Gehlot’s relatives in his home district Jodhpur also came up for the second consecutive day in the Assembly. Mr. Gehlot, who had refuted the allegations of favouritism on Wednesday during the budget presentation, reiterated that he was willing to undergo any kind of probe.

When Mr. Kataria demanded that a House Committee be appointed to probe the charges, Mr. Gehlot said Mr. Kataria was free to go through the Cabinet memo and other documents to determine if there were any irregularities involved in the matter.

  • ‘Congress must take initiative to end deadlock’

  • Minister of State for Home defends action