Opposition Stalls Parliament: 'Demonetisation Kills 90, After Surgical Strikes 23+7 Soldiers Dead'
NEW DELHI: Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned after the entire Opposition stood up demanding an obituary resolution for the seven soldiers, including two Army officers, killed in the terror attack on the Army camp at Nagrota.
The BJP, that has made itself the spokesperson for the Indian army, was caught on the back foot as the Opposition parties came together to attack the government for its “silence” on the terror attack. As several Opposition leaders pointed out before the Houses were adjourned, at least 30 soldiers have been killed since the “surgical strikes” pointing out that there was no justification in delaying the obituary reference.
Minister Venkiah Naidu told reporters outside the House that he had no idea why the Opposition walked out from both the Houses. He said that combing operations were on, and an obituary resolution would be brought in after the operations were over. He said that the Congress party was politicising the issue, this is condemnable, the people of India hate this politics. He said the government was ready for a discussion on this issue. “I do not understand why are they doing this,” he said.
The Opposition leaders were clear that they did not want a delay in the obituary resolution that should have been brought in as soon as Parliament convened for the day. They said that seven soldiers were dead, and the resolution should have started the day as has been the norm. They said the martyrs have been insulted by the government’s silence.
Daggers were drawn, with the Opposition raising slogans against the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was present in the Lok Sabha. All opposition parties were unanimous, with most linking the death of the soldiers to the earlier demand for an obituary resolution for the 90 persons who have died as a result of the demonetisation announced by PM Modi.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley lost his temper in the Rajya Sabha when Janata Dal(U) leader Sharad Yadav got up to criticise the government for its silence on the death of the soldiers and officers, as well as those killed as a direct impact of demonetisation. Jaitley stood up and virtually shouted, “you talk of demonetisation, first find out if your party is with you”, in a refernce to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s pro-position. To this Yadav retorted, “is your Prime Minister with you, is he listening to you at all.”
Bahujan Samaj party leader Mayawati said that the government does not appear to be concerned about the death of the soldiers. Or about the poor killed while queueing up for their own hard earned money. This sentiment resonated through both Houses of Parliament this morning, with the government unable to convince the Opposition about the delay in bringing the obituary resolution.
Significantly, it was the BJP that had sought to draw a comparison between the soldiers on the borders and the people queuing up outside banks for their own hard earned money. The Opposition has taken the wind out of this argument clearly, by linking the deaths of the soldiers since the surgical strikes to those killed waiting for their money in queues.
Under directions from PM Modi, the Indian Army had carried out what were termed “surigcal strikes” on Pakistan militant launching pads across the border in which it claimed to have inflicted big casualties. Unofficially figures leaked to the media suggested over 40 casualties. However, despite the claims the government did not come out with any figures, with the strikes and the casualties in Pakistan remaining under a cloud despite loud demands by the Opposition to share the information with the country.
Since the surgical strikes, a response to Pakistan terror attacks on Indian military bases in Pathankot and more recently Uri, there has been heavy shelling across the Line of Control by both armies.Unconfirmed numbers are reported to have died, and been injured, with the official figures tallying 23 Indian soldiers dead of which at least one was beheaded by the Pakistan attackers. The 7 killed at Nagrota now, by terrorists who came in reportedly wearing police uniforms, has taken the official tally to 30.
This is not a small figure given the fact that surgical strikes were on September 29 and it is just two months since. The Opposition has claimed that at least 90 persons have died as a result of the demonetisation, totally 120 dead as a direct result of questionable government policy.
There must be an obituary resolution the Opposition shouted with the Lok Sabha Speaker saying she had to clarify this with the government as combing operations were still on. So what, asked the Opposition leaders saying that the government was expected to have come to Parliament with the resolution, to record the condolences of the Members on the death of the soldiers, and the poor struggling to take out their own money from the banks.
(Photograph by Basit Zargar)