Parliament security breach | Hearing a loud thud, MPs first thought that ‘something or someone has fallen’

Surrounded by MPs, one intruder pleaded with them to spare him, saying he was only there to protest; MPs say they overpowered and began beating the second intruder before security arrived

Updated - December 13, 2023 09:31 pm IST

Published - December 13, 2023 08:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A visitor jumps into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery on December 13, 2023. Photo: Sansad TV via PTI

A visitor jumps into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery on December 13, 2023. Photo: Sansad TV via PTI

It was a slow Wednesday afternoon in the Lok Sabha. The Zero Hour — when Parliamentarians can raise issues of national importance — was at its fag end. Several MPs were only half listening and the only ones paying attention were those waiting for their own turn to speak. The lunch hour was approaching and attendance was thin.

A loud thud was heard. Many thought that someone or something had fallen. Within minutes, the atmosphere changed, as yellow smoke enveloped the chamber and an overwhelming dread took over.

The first MP to notice that someone had fallen was Dilip Saikia, a BJP MP from Assam. The intruder landed right next to his seat. “The first thing I saw was him bending over and fiddling with his shoes. I thought he accidentally fell and may have been hurt. But then I realised that he was taking out something from his shoes,” Mr. Saikia tells The Hindu. He noticed that it was a customised shoe, with a hidden chamber to hold a canister which the intruder took out. Spewing smoke, he began running towards the chair, leaping over the tables.

‘Sir, don’t hit me’

Mr. Saikia and a group of fellow MPs — the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party’s Hanuman Beniwal, the BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia, the Congress’ Gurjeet Singh Aujla, the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Malook Nagar, and the Shiv Sena (Udhhav)‘s Arvind Sawant — were the first to react.

From his seat in the second row, Mr. Beniwal saw a man leaping over the tables, shouting something. “I caught hold of this person and then others joined me. He pleaded with us. ‘Sir, don’t hit me’, he said, saying that he is only here for protest,” he says. A protest coinciding with the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament attack, Mr. Beniwal adds, is a very ominous sign.

The MPs were not in the mood to spare the intruders. “None of us could think straight at that moment. The only thought we had was that he may have weapons in his hand. So, we beat him up and immobilised him so that he could not reach for those,” says Mr. Nagar, the BSP MP. In closed circuit television footage, the MPs can be seen raining blows on one of the assailants, pulling his hair, and dragging him. 

Mr. Beniwal adds that there was a woman in the visitors’ gallery egging on the two intruders and shouting slogans.

Overpowered by MPs

The second intruder, surrounded by Parliamentarians, also bent over to remove his shoe. This action stopped the MPs in their tracks for a few seconds, thinking that the intruder might be brandishing a weapon. Instead, the intruder withdrew a canister and the chamber filled with fluorescent smoke. The MPs overpowered him and started beating him. It was only then that the security personnel stormed in to take custody of the intruders.

Congress MP Mr. Aujla’s hands were stained yellow from catching the second intruder by his collar. He shows them off to media personnel as he narrates the incident on a loop, repeating every detail that he can remember. “I tried to drag him out of the house so that he does not cause any more damage,” he says, noting that it was a major security breach. “The design of this building is deeply problematic, since there are fewer entry and exit points,” he adds.

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