Ruckus created by parties from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu paralysed proceedings in Parliament for the 12th straight day, even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed both the Houses of the death of 39 missing Indians in Iraq.
The Lok Sabha was first adjourned till noon and then for the day due to the ruckus created by several protesting parties, leading Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to announce that she was unable to take up the no-confidence motion as there was no order in the House.
She said all the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS terror outfit in Mosul in Iraq three years ago are dead and their bodies have been recovered.
While it was not immediately known when the Indians were killed, their bodies were recovered from Badosh – a village in northwest of Mosul, and their identities established through DNA testing, Swaraj said.
“I had said that I will not declare anyone dead without substantive proof… today I have come to fulfil that commitment. … I had said that closure will be done with full proof. And when we will, with a heavy heart, give the mortal remains to their kin, it will be a kind of closure,” she said.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will travel to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains on a special plane, Swaraj said, adding the first stop on way back would be Amritsar where 31 bodies of those from Punjab and four from Himachal Pradesh would be handed over to the relatives. It will then travel to Patna and then to Kolkata.
After she made the statement, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu termed it as “a very sad news”, following which members in the Upper House stood in silence to mourn the dead.
Minutes before Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day amid ruckus by Tamil and Andhra parties, the Congress hit out at the government for the stalemate saying it was not making an effort to engage with all parties to ensure that issues like banking fraud are debated in the House.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said they wanted the House to function and debate three pressing issues as well as the Budget and other legislative business.
While most of the opposition wanted Azad to make the statement, Tamil parties – DMK and AIADMK – as well as those from Andhra Pradesh including TDP trooped into the Well of the House shouting slogans for constitution of Cauvery Water Management Board and special status to Andhra.
Three major issues which are agitating the minds of people are “irregularities in banks where billions of rupees have been looted”, special category status for Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery water, Azad said, adding “we want that the House functions and discussions take place on the three issues.”
The government is “responsible for the impasse” as it is not engaging with all political parties, he said, adding that no effective step has been taken so far to ensure that the House functions.
While Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad countered him saying the government is prepared for debate on all issues including the banking fraud, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said the government has since the first day said it is prepared for any discussion.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he too had on the very first day said that banking issue needs to be discussed and the government has also agreed to it.
“I don’t find any reason” for disruption, he said. “What is happening. This is no good.” But minutes later, he adjourned the proceedings for the day.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have not transacted any substantial business since March 5 when the second half of the Budget session of Parliament resumed, due to protests. The Lower House had passed the budget without debate last week.
In the Lok Sabha, Swaraj was unable to make an elaborate statement on the 39 Indians killed in Iraq, due to ruckus created by slogan-shouting members.
Amid din, the notices of no-confidence motion against the government could not be taken up for the third day today.
The Speaker said the House was not in order and hence she cannot verify whether the members who have given the notices can go ahead with moving the motion.
Amid slogan shouting by members from various parties, the House was adjourned for the day with Mahajan terming the scenes as “unfortunate”.
A bill to ban unregulated chit fund schemes was also moved for introduction amid disruptions.
When the House met at noon, Mahajan ordered laying of the listed papers, but soon AIADMK and TDP members rushed into the Well and started raising slogans in support of their demands.
Congress members, who were at their seats, objected to the disruptions, saying this would prevent the notices of no- trust motion from being taken up.
The Speaker urged the members to maintain order as Swaraj wanted to inform the House about a “serious” issue. At this moment, Congress and Left members started raising slogans such as “no no”, drowning the voice of Swaraj.
“She wants to inform the House about the 39 Indians killed in Iraq. Please listen to her,” the Speaker said.
Swaraj said she cannot make a statement in the din as it was a serious issue, while recalling that the Lok Sabha had on several occasions discussed about the fate of the 39 Indians.
“I want to present the evidence today. Please listen to me…please maintain silence,” the minister said, amid slogan shouting by Congress, AAP and Left members.
When she started speaking, AIADMK members maintained silence and did not raise slogans.
Swaraj said there has been a 100 per cent DNA match of the 38 victims and 70 per cent match in case of one of bodies found in Iraq.
As Sushma’s statement was repeatedly disrupted by opposition members, an anguished Speaker wondered whether the members have become “insensitive” and have “lost compassion” towards fellow countrymen.
“Don’t indulge in such politics. Don’t be so insensitive … this is a very sorry state…. It has never been such a sorry state (of affairs). It is sad,” Mahajan remarked.