• Saturday, March 02, 2024


Indian MPs suspended over calls for parliament security breach debate

Six people were arrested after the protest last Wednesday (13), when a man jumped onto the floor of the lower house of parliament from an overhead visitors’ gallery

The prime minister has ordered a detailed investigation after an intruder jumped into India’s lower house while it was in session

By: Eastern Eye

NEARLY 100 opposition MPs were temporarily barred from India’s parliament for demanding a debate into last week’s protest when a smoke canister was released in the legislature.

The 92 suspended MPs include opposition leaders in both houses of parliament.

Six people were arrested after the protest last Wednesday (13), when a man jumped onto the floor of the lower house of parliament from an overhead visitors’ gallery.

Official footage from the session showed another man shouting slogans and vaulting over tables between stunned MPs before a device was set off that caused yellow smoke to billow into the chamber.

The motives of the pair and how they managed to evade security checks were unclear, with police in New Delhi yet to release any details on the incident.

One MP estimated around 150 lawmakers were in the chamber at the time. Parliament resumed after a brief adjournment, with speaker Om Birla telling MPs that four people were arrested for the disruption.

“Both persons have been arrested and two others outside have also been arrested,” he said last week.

Birla said the parliament was “carrying out a thorough probe and the Delhi police too had been given necessary directions”.

He added that “there was nothing to worry about” and assured lawmakers the smoke was not hazardous to human health.

India’s home ministry is also investigating the breach.

The following day, 14 MPs were barred from the chambers after they demanded home minister Amit Shah give a statement on the incident.

On Monday (18), at least 78 MPs were suspended – 33 from the lower house (Lok Sabha) and 45 from the house of elders (Rajya Sabha).

Prime minister Narendra Modi, in a rare interview to the Dainik Jagran newspaper, called the incident “very serious” and ordered a detailed investigation, but said there was “no need” for a debate.

The leader of the opposition Congress party, Mallikarjun Kharge, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, “First, intruders attacked Parliament. Then Modi Govt attacking Parliament & Democracy.”

He added, “With an opposition-less parliament, the Modi govt can now bulldoze important pending legislations, crush any dissent, without any debate.”

India’s new parliament was inaugurated by Modi earlier this year.

The protest last Wednesday came on the 22nd anniversary of an attack on parliament – then in an older building – when five gunmen shot dead at least eight security personnel and a gardener.

Modi had paid tribute to the victims of that attack earlier last Wednesday.

“Their courage and sacrifice in the face of danger will forever be etched in our nation’s memory,” he said.

Eastern Eye

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