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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Indian opposition MPs suspended for protesting against parliament security breach

Fourteen members of opposition political parties in India were suspensed on Thursday for protesting against the massive security breach in parliament in the national capital.

The opposition politicians were suspended for the remainder of the winter session of parliament after acrimonious scenes and multiple adjournments as they pressed prime minister Narendra Modi government for a discussion on the security breach.

On Wednesday, at least two intruders managed to breach the heavily secured parliament and enter the Lower House during an ongoing session, setting off smoke bombs.

The security lapse caused chaos inside parliament and five people were arrested for their involvement in the attack. One person is still on the run.

Eight Delhi police security personnel have been suspended in connection with the breach, a parliament spokesperson said.

The issue of the security lapse has snowballed into a full-blown confrontation between the opposition parties and the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government after it emerged that a member of the BJP allegedly provided a visitor’s pass to one of the intruders.

The opposition MPs pressed the parliament to discuss the matter but the chair and speaker of both houses, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, did not agree.

Moment two unidentified men jumped from table to table in lower house of Indian parliament on Wednesday

(Screengrab/Sansad TV)

Opposition members raised slogans and entered the well as the treasury benches attempted to proceed with other matters.

In the upper house, opposition MP Derek O’Brien was suspended for “ignoble conduct” as he demanded home minister Amit Shah to issue a statement.

In the lower house, 13 MPs were suspended till 22 December.

Initially, DMK’s S R Parthiban was also included in the list of suspensions but later his name was excluded as it emerged that he was not in the House at that time.

Before the session was adjourned, defence minister Rajnath Singh in the lower house called the security breach “unfortunate” and said the incident has been condemned by “everyone”.

File Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and cabinet ministers attend winter session at new Parliament House building


“We all – ruling and opposition MPs – have to be careful about to whom we issue the passes (to enter parliament),” he said, as MPs chanted “shame, shame”.

The lawmakers of opposition parties have condemned the expulsions and said it is to hide the failures of the government.

“The suspensions have been done for the government to hide its failures. They want to scare the opposition. You can’t govern by creating fear. If opposition MPs were demanding a statement from the home minister regarding yesterday’s security failure, then what was wrong with it? The Home Minister should come and make a statement…,” MP Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh told ANI.

Congress politician Banna Gupta said asking questions is the “right of every elected public representative”.

“What happened yesterday is highly condemnable. They did not have weapons. If they had weapons, God knows how many people would have died. This is a major failure and the Government and security agencies should have a review over this. We had seen a catastrophic attack on the Parliament in 2001 which we remember even today,” Mr Gupta said.

An art school teacher works on a painting along a pavement in Mumbai depicting the security breach inside the lower house Lok Sabh

(AFP via Getty Images)

Opposition politicians have called for action against Pratap Simha, an MP from BJP accused of signing the entry passes of intruders.

Mr Simha or his party have not officially commented yet.

The four arrested – Sagar Sharma, and D Manoranjan who entered the House; Neelam Azad and Amol Shinde, who protested outside the parliament – have been charged under India’s anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and sections of Indian Penal Code.

The incident occurred on the 22nd anniversary of a deadly 2001 terrorist attack on the parliament, which claimed the lives of 14 people, including security officers and attackers.


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