As it happened: RS descends into chaos as Smriti Irani raises Mahishasura martyrdom day issue

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As it happened: RS descends into chaos as Smriti Irani raises Mahishasura martyrdom day issue
  • 20:32 (IST)

    Rajya Sabha adjourned

    As the Mahishasura martyrdom day issue rocked the House, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day.

  • 20:31 (IST)

    Mahishasura martyrdom day issue now disrupts Rajya Sabha

    "I am compelled to read a few things," said Smriti Irani.

    "There is an accusation that Mehmood ki topi Ahmed par hai. Pata nahi kiski topi kiske sar pe hai...main bina topi ke hoon," she said.

    Irani then quoted a JNU document which, according to Irani's speech, said that "the execution of Afzal Guru was a nervous attempt by Congress."

    "And it (the JNU document) also speaks about a public meeting that they have the right to hold a festival called Mahishasura martyrdom day," she said.

    Irani then said that some minority students who were protesting against this festival were beaten up by Left-leaning JNU students.

    "What is Mahishasura martyrdom day?" Irani said. She then again quoted the document.

    "The document said that Durga Puja is a controversial, racist festival where a fair-skinned goddess is depicted killing a dark demon," Irani said.

    She also said that document described Durga as a "sex worker called Durga who enticed Mahishasur into marriage. Every year, thousand of Durga puja pandals are erected showing her in a bad light, in a sexual position."

    As soon as Irani finished reading this out, a huge uproar erupted in the Parliament.

    "What is happening here? It is highly objectionable!" thundered Anand Sharma. "Tomorrow, if any of the ministers bring in any derogatory reference, what are we reducing this House to?"

  • 20:16 (IST)

    Irani counters charge of saffronisation of education

    "There are many who have said that history is being distorted and all Sanghis are being put in ICHR," said Smriti Irani. She then pointed out that there was a member of ICHR who was not, in fact, a Sanghi. "If there was an intention to saffronise education, why would I pick a scholar who is not aligned to my organisation?" she said.

  • 20:02 (IST)

    "I am grateful for the anomalies which Azad sahab corrected in his speech today," Irani said.

  • 20:02 (IST)

    Uproar erupts in Rajya Sabha in the middle of Smriti Irani's speech

    Opposition members began shouting as Smriti Irani tried responding to the allegations made against her.

  • 19:56 (IST)

    "What are we as a united House telling this generation of ours?" Irani said.

    "Do we say to them that if you are a Dalit child belonging to an ideology not favourable to us, you can die for all we care?" she said.

    Sitharam Yechury lashed out in the House and asked Smriti Irani to focus on the point at hand.

  • 19:50 (IST)

    Many can be accused of identifying Rohith as a vote bank: Smriti Irani

    "I have been told not to get agitated," said Smriti Irani as she began her speech by quoting lines from Macbeth.

    "I publicly pay homage to him. What I never publicly disclose that I also spoke to his mother," said Irani. "There are many who can be accused of identifying him as a vote bank," she said.

  • 17:43 (IST)

    We are undeterred by these attempts: Naidu

    "Instead of running for photo opportunities, the political leadership should ponder over why incidents like the Rohith Vemula suicide happened. The entire country should think seriously. This is not the first case," Venkaiah Naidu said.

    "The Prime Minister is very clear. The country has to go forward. We are undeterred by these attempts," Naidu said, as he targeted the Opposition over its criticism of the government.

  • 17:36 (IST)

    Don't express solidarity with divisive forces: Naidu

    "We are only requesting you not to express solidarity with divisive forces," said Naidu.

  • 17:33 (IST)

    "We cannot tolerate such activities in our universities. We cannot allow the students to be influenced by fringe elements," said Venkaiah Naidu in Lok Sabha.

  • 17:31 (IST)

    Some people are eulogising Yakub Memon: Naidu in Lok Sabha

    "In the Yakub Memon case, Supreme Court held a session in the middle of the night. Some people are eulogising Yakub Memon," Venkaiah Naidu said.

  • 17:29 (IST)

    Venkaiah Naidu takes a dig at Chidambaram over his remark on Afzal Guru

    "A former Finance Minister has said that perhaps there are doubts about Afzal Guru's involvement in the Parliament attack," Naidu said. "Nobody has the right to say this after the Supreme Court verdict."

  • 17:15 (IST)

    Nobody has fought against the ultra Left like we have: Yechury

    Before he was told by the Deputy Chairman to sit down, Sitharam Yechury said, "Nobody has fought against the ultra Left like we have."

  • 17:12 (IST)

    Don't camouflage this issue: Jaitley

    "I would only urge this: The accused have been arrested. The investigations are on. The Home Minister has said the police will be more than fair. Please don't camouflage the offence which has taken place," said Jaitley.

    "You should be more vigorous in speaking against terror than we are," the Finance Minister also told the Congress.

  • 17:09 (IST)

    Purpose of this debate is not to point fingers at each other: Anand Sharma to Jaitley

    An angry Anand Sharma, in response to Jaitley accusing Opposition parties of supporting 'anti-nationals', said, "The purpose of this debate is not to deepen the fissures and point fingers at each other. Let's not distort the facts...Was the JNU faculty responsible for the anti-national slogans?"

  • 17:07 (IST)

    Should the police have remained a mute spectator while anti-national slogans were raised? asks Jaitley

    "Without thinking, don't give respectability to those who talk about breaking the nation," said Jaitley. "Should the police remain a mute spectator if anti-national slogans are raised in the heart of India?" he added.

    "I think the JNU is an integral part of India. And therefore, the Indian law applies. And if the Indian Penal Code is violated, the police has the right to enter the university," Jaitley said.

    "The tragedy is not only that anti-national slogans were raised. It's also a tragedy that national parties were supporting those people," he said.

  • 17:01 (IST)

    At this point, Ghulam Nabi Azad interrupted and said, "The sedition charge should only be against those who did something wrong. Don't make this debate about who is anti-national."

  • 17:00 (IST)

    'Vandalism is condemnable but sedition is free speech?'

    "Of course, what happened in Patiala House is condemnable. But vandalism is condemnable. And sedition is free speech?" said Jaitley.

    "Vandalism is condemnable. But here's what the leftist philosophy is in this case: 'Let us concentrate on vandalism, which is condemnable. But at the same time, sedition must become a part of free speech.' Can hate speech become free speech?" he said.

    "The question is: Does the Indian constitutional order allow this? To say that this kind of act must be ignored by the state is wrong. It is an issue over the geography and territory of India which is under attack today," he said.

  • 16:53 (IST)

    No academic freedom will ever be in peril in this country: Jaitley

    "The pamphlet (at JNU) is more against the government which the UPA led. It said: 'Kashmir did not belong to Nehru. Nor does it belong to Manmohan or Modi.' All of the accused belong to an ultra-Left philosophy. I won't say anything against the accused because it might prejudice the trial against them," said the Finance Minister.

    "Some other people came with masks. Maoists and separatists came to the event. And these people said, 'Kashmir ki azaadi tak, Bharat ki barbaadi tak jang chalegi jang chalegi.' What was the police supposed to do?" he said.

  • 16:49 (IST)

    Pamphlet at JNU event was titled 'a country without a post office': Jaitley

    "Our fairness of the system was that not only did the accused (Afzal Guru) get a fair trial, but he also got several rounds of petitions with the Supreme Court. The system went out of the way to accommodate a person aganst whom there was a grave charge," Jaitley said.

    "Can anyone say that his martyrdom should be celebrated? Let us be clear about the kind of functions that were organised in Hyderabad and JNU," he said. "The Congress has had a history of never supporting the fringe. Here is a group of people who call for this cultural programme on 9 February. The pamphlet was titled 'A country without a post office'...The pamphlet said the 'judicial killing' of Afzal Guru," he said.

  • 16:40 (IST)

    'Are we going to give respectability to those whose primary ideology is that they're going to break this country?'

    "If some student belonging to a weaker section of society suffers mental distress, that issue has to be discussed," said Jaitley. "The core issue does not relate to the amount of academic license that exists," he said.

    "Youngsters do many things and when they grow up, they realise they shouldn't have done many of those things," said the Finance Minister.

    "Some amount of radical romancing can also take place in institutions," he said.

    "But are we going to give respectability to those whose primary ideology is that they're going to break this country?" he said.

  • 16:35 (IST)

    We are missing or side-tracking the real issue: Jaitley

    "Should we have universities where there is openness and freedom? Can there ever be an argument in a democracy like ours that there should be only one ideology?" Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, in response to Ghulam Nabi Azad in Rajya Sabha.

    "Let us settle this debate. Neither the NDA nor the UPA says only one idea must grow," Jaitley said. "We are entitled to be criticised. I have no difficulty with that," he added.

  • 16:25 (IST)

    They were supporting a terrorist at that university: Najma Heptulla

    "This temple of democracy exists today because soldiers have given their lives for their nation," said Najma Heptulla, in response to Ghulam Nabi Azad's speech. "At that university (JNU), they were supporting a terrorist," she said.

  • 16:22 (IST)

    'Deal with those who actually made anti-national slogans in a different way'

    "What is happening today is like a war. We are telling people some of them are more nationalist than others," Ghulam Nabi Azad said. "Deal with those who actually made anti-national slogans in a way different from those who did not make any anti-national slogans," he added.

    "In the Patiala House court complex attack, the government was trying to save the BJP MLA," he further said. He also called for a House committee to probe this issue.

  • 16:16 (IST)

    Take action against those behind doctored videos: Ghulam Nabi Azad

    "Action should be taken against those people behind the doctored videos who are trying to break the nation. Those are the people against whom a sedition case should be filed," Azad said. "And the media was encouraged by the ruling party to make these videos," he added.

    Azad also mentioned the journalist who resigned from Zee News over this issue.

  • 16:11 (IST)

    Let there be a debate on nationalism, thunders Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament

    "These institutions (like JNU) were made by organisations under Jawaharlal Nehru. And you are trying to ruin these institutions," said Azad.

  • 16:07 (IST)

    We don't have HRD Ministry's energy: Ghulam Nabi Azad

    "We are explaining everything to you with a lot of love. Please don't react," said Ghulam Nabi Azad as the BJP MPs in the House began getting restless after his speech. "After all, we don't have the kind of energy which the HRD Ministry has," he added, after which even Smriti Irani erupted in laughter.

  • 16:04 (IST)

    'Why has ABVP come on the centre stage in Delhi?'

    "The ruling party is making an issue out out of who is an anti-national and who is not. I want to tell them, 'Sheeshe ke mehel mein rehne waale doosron par pathar nahi pheka karte' (Those who live in glass palaces should not throw stones at others)," said Ghulam Nabi Azad.

  • 16:00 (IST)

    (Updates begin for 25 February)

    Ghulam Nabi Azad criticises Smriti Irani over Rohith Vemula suicide issue in Rajya Sabha

    "You can imagine how much the boy was harassed...He was called an anti-national and thrown out of college," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi said as he criticised HRD Minister Smriti Irani over the Rohith Vemula suicide issue.

  • 20:02 (IST)

    Dissussion on the suicide of Rohith Vemula and JNU row ends in Lok Sabha. Question Hour begins.

  • 20:01 (IST)

    Our govt believes JNU is a centre of excellence: Rajnath Singh

    "Our government believes that JNU is a centre of excellence, not centre of ati-national activities," says Home Minister Rajnath Singh. 

    "Under no circumstances police would be allowed harass any inncocent students. Regarding the incidents in the Patiala House Court the police has already upon it and I assure the House the guilty will given exemplary punishment," Singh said.  

  • 19:58 (IST)

    Meanwhile, students begin a rallying cry at JNU's administrative block. Slogans include: "Jo Kashmir hamara hai sara ka sara hai...Indian army zindbad," "Kashmir se le kar kanya kumari Bharat mata hai humari" and "Doodh mangoge to kheer denge...Kashmir mangoge tow cheer denge".

  • 19:56 (IST)

    Wish Rahul Gandhi helped me to tackle tensions in JNU, says Irani

    "If we make education a battleground, if we make children vote banks then the country would be in the path of self-destruction. Had Rahul Gandhi requested me to accompany him to JNU and jointly appealed to the students to remember what nationalism is I would have happily gone. But he did not do that. My request is help me build this not destroy it from within," says Irani while concluding her speech. 

  • 19:47 (IST)

  • 19:42 (IST)

  • 19:32 (IST)

    JNU executive council not appointed by NDA, says Irani

    "Executive council that ousted Rohith Vemula was appointed by UPA, not NDA," Smriti Irani tells Lok Sabha.

    "I look at the poster of Rohith Vemula and think that he never knew that he was used," Irani says. 

    She refers to a post on Mahisasur Martyrdom Day. It refers to Goddess Durga as "sex worker" who tricked Mahisasur, a dark skinned man and killed him later. 

    "Is this freedom of speech? I want to know if Rahul Gandhi, Saugata Roy or Saugata Bose would like to discuss this freedom of speech. I fail to understand the depravity of these so-called students," the minister said pointing to the empty Congress benches as the largest party has staged a walkout.     

  • 19:30 (IST)

  • 19:09 (IST)

    An angry Smriti Irani rises to speak; is she trying to fight off tears?

    "I am disturbed by the fact some people are questioning my integrity as a minister. I have solved thousands of issues that have come to me in my capacity as a minister,” says a rather fiery looking Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani in Lok Sabha. 

    She challenges Congress MP V Hanumantha Rao as to why he asked on what authority she wrote to the Hyderabad Central University. Irani shows all the letters that Rao as a MP addressed to the minister seeking her intervention in the HCU.

    Uneasy prevails in the Opposition benches as the minister flashes letter after letter written by the parliamentarians seeking her intervention on different matters. From Kerala CM Oommen Chandy to former HRD minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor she spares none. 

    "Today you are accusing me of biasness. Had I wanted to use the ocassion to put counter allegations I would have done that in the press conference I did the other day," Irani tells Lok Sabha. 

    "Meri naam Smriti Irani hain. Meri jaati kya hain bataon," says a teary Irani in Lok Sabha. 

    Allegations and counter-allegations fly between TRS MPs and the Union HRD minister.

    "No doctor was permitted to go near Rohith Vemula. No attempt was made to revive the child. Even the police was allowed next morning. If the vertebrate does not break and even if the pulse falls down to 30 or 40 he can be revived. Who declared him dead?" says Irani.

    "I am not certifying your idea of India. But do not demean mine," the minister says. 

  • 18:52 (IST)

    Point to ponder!

    "Haathi ke daant khane ki aur, dikhane ki aur. Very well said by my friend Jyotiraditya Scindia. But I am confused if he was referring to the UPA or NDA?" says Anupriya Patel from Apna Dal.

  • 18:36 (IST)

    Where was your patriotism when PDP termed Afzal's hanging as travesty of justice? asks Asaduddin Owaisi 

    "Where were you when the present Punjab CM burned down the Indian Constitution? Where were you when the PDP with whom you are partners in J&K said that the hanging of Afzal Guru was travesty of justice? Where was your patritism then? Whatever is happening in JNU is wrong. Had (Union Minister) Bandaru Dattatreya did not write that letter, had HRD Minister Smriti Irani not ordered action Rohith Vemula would have been alive," says All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi. 

  • 18:30 (IST)

  • 18:29 (IST)

  • 18:26 (IST)

    Mr Rahul Gandhi. Are you serious?

    Firstpost senior editor Akshaya Mishra says: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi says the BJP-led government won't allow him to speak because they are scared of what he will say. Well...well, want to have a smiley here but cannot find one. Actually, the Congress is doing rather well in the House debate even without him speaking. Jyotiraditya Scindia was quite impressive in his attack on the government. Seniors leaders sure would do fine given their experience in debating. So Rahul’s skills won’t be missed much. He should keep the powder dry for another day, another occasion. As for the government getting scared about what he might say, we are curious.   

  • 18:22 (IST)

    Remember our martyrs, says Venkaiah Naidu

    "Who is innocent? Afzal Guru? Maqbul Bhat? Remember the jawans who gave their lives. If Kashmir is negotiable why should these people lay down their lives?" asks Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu in Lok Sabha.

  • 18:19 (IST)

    Some laughs in Lok Sabha after hours serious debate

    Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu addresses the Chair as "Madam'' and suddenly stops finding Hukmdev Narayan Yadav in the Chair.

    "Oh! Madam covert ho gaya. Sir, aa gaye," he quipped forcing the House into peels of laughter.

  • 18:04 (IST)

    We cannot compromise India, says Venkaiah Naidu

    "Disappointed with many speakers again as many are trying to score political points.Since 2006 nine students apart from Rohith Vemula committed suicide in the Hyderabad Cenral University. The university administration should probe why this was happening? The main issue is what are the circumstances that forced these students to commit suicide," Naidu said while commenting on the Rohith Vemula suicide.

    "It is wrong to connect the Rohith Vemula suicide with whatever happend in JNU. In JNU, Maoists have made entry into the campus but in a different form," he said.  

    "Some of my colleagues without knowing what was happening in JNU went an expressed solidarity. They should have enquired before expressing solidarity. Who is Afzal Guru? Had the terrorists succeeded on that day none of us from this generation of parliamentarians would have been alive. I was in Parliament that day. Afzal Guru is a Pakistan backed terrorist," the minister said.

    "We cannot compromise India," sais Naidu.

  • 17:56 (IST)

    When parliamentarians make you happy

    Firstpost senior editor Akshaya Mishra says: We berate our parliamentarians too much. We keep complaining that they waste public money through pointless disruptions and they have no real concern for the country and its people. The fact is our parliamentarians can get serious about work when the situation demands. And contrary to the popular perception there’s a lot of knowledge and wisdom going around in both Houses. The debates, particularly those coming from senior leaders, make you sit and wonder, and pinch yourself. The back-benchers sometimes make you squirm though. When the front benches empty out and the back benchers replace them, would the quality of debate remain the same? The talent is yet to reveal itself.

  • 17:54 (IST)

    Sleepy already? Blame yourself

    Firstpost senior editor Akshaya Mishra says: If the debate is making you feel sleepy don’t blame anyone. You choose to watch it and you always had the remote around. Don’t tell me you did not know beforehand what would be spoken in Parliament. Of course, you knew what the Congress is going to say and how the BJP would respond. You also have decided which side to take. What you wanted was some real, blistering action. It’s not happening. Come on, for that you need to go to theatre near you or perhaps a bar. Parliament is a place for sober, serious and life-changing debates. You are waiting for excitement in the wrong place. 

  • 17:52 (IST)

    If his background caused Rohith's death, we need to introspect: Chirag 

    LJP MP from Jamui constituency in Bihar Chirag Kumar Paswan displays the corporate look and focusses on youth power in flawless Hindi. 

    "If students from the JNU or any other university try to get their agenda in focus by indulging in anti-national activities then it should be dealt with sternly. My politics is completely different. I represent the sentiments of the students and not of any caste and creed," Paswan said in Lok Sabha. 

    "Can anyone from this House say whatever happened with Rohith Vemula was correct? These are all sensitive matters and should be dealt with sensitivity. If Rohith's suicide happened due to his background then it is high time for us to introspect."

  • 17:45 (IST)

    Is this the quote of the day?

    "If the students fight it is a storm in the cup. Why do you react?"

JNU Student Union president, Kanhaiya Kumar's bail plea will be heard on Wednesday by the Delhi High Court after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition on 19 February after which he was remanded to Tihar Jail. One of the key focus of the plea is likely to be around the allegedly doctored video clip used by the Delhi police to arrest him on the charges of sedition.

Zee News' Vishwa Deepak had resigned last week citing that the channel had intentionally misinterpreted the video clip to brand some students as anti-national.

Kanhaiya's lawyer had directly moved the the Supreme Court for bail, but the apex court asked his advocate to move the high court for bail, noting that bypassing the high court would set a wrong precedent.

The student leader had directly moved his bail plea before the Supreme Court invoking its jurisdiction under article 32, under which a citizen can move the apex court for enforcing his fundamental rights.

Besides bail, Kanhaiya Kumar had sought direction for his safety and security from the apex court.
Invoking Article 21 guaranteeing right to life and personal liberty and pointing to the atmosphere of violence that prevailed in Patiala House Court complex on 15 and 17 February, he, in his petition in apex court, had said that the manner in which his physical harassment was allowed to take place was a clear pointer to the violation of his right to access justice delivery system.

Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a sedition case on February 12 after an event held on the university campus against hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Security will be beefed up in the high court to avoid any untoward incident, in view of the violence seen in the Patiala House courts when Kanhaiya Kumar was produced for hearing.

Apart from Kanhaiya, two other JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, facing the charge of sedition, surrendered before the police late on Tuesday, hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant them protection from arrest.

The duo, who returned to the JNU campus last Sunday after having gone missing since 12 February, drove from the administrative bloc to the main gate of the university, got into a Delhi Police vehicle and were taken to an undisclosed destination.

Police sources said Khalid and Bhattacharya surrendered at around midnight.

The two have been placed under police custody at South Campus police station. They will be produced before a magistrate on Wenesday morning, the sources said.

Besides Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharya, the other students are Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakash.

Delhi Police had issued a look-out notice on 20 February against Khalid, Bhattacharya, Naga, Ashutosh and Prakash.

Earlier, Khalid and Bhattacharya left the JNU campus at around 11.50 pm  on Tuesday night for the surrender.

The university students formed a human chain to prevent the media from following Khalid and Bhattacharya when they were leaving the campus on Tuesday evening.

The National Capital Region is also being shaken up by 10,000 students who will be protesting at Jantar Mantar and India Gate on 23-24 February in solidarity with the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University and dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide in University of Hyderabad. The JNU row and Rohith Vemula's suicide have both sparked great debate in the country about the freedom of speech, the right to dissent, police brutality and overreach.

According to The Indian Express, the slogan of the protests is "humein chahiye azaadi, hum chheen ke lenge" (We want freedom and we will snatch it). The protest is being organised by Joint Action Committe (JAC) for Social Justice and Hyderabad Central University (HCU). The report also points out that students from TISS, TIFR, Mumbai University will join the protests.

According to Mid-Day, a number of students from across Mumbai universities and colleges have started a petition seeking the immediate release of Kanhaiya Kumar.

Others accused of sedition and branded as "absconding" by the Delhi police, Umar Khalid and others will also be moving the High Court seeking security to surrender.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2016 07:50:46 IST

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