BJP MLAs thrash legislator in Kashmir assembly over beef



Two BJP legislators on Thursday thrashed an independent legislator in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly for hosting a beef party, triggering all-round condemnation that forced BJP's Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh to denounce the violence in the house.

The shocking incident took place when Bharatiya Janata Party's Gagan Bhagat and Rajeev Sharma pounced on Engineer Rashid -- whose real name is Sheikh Abdul Rashid -- as soon as the house met, slapped him and kicked him.

The assault took place even before Speaker Kavinder Gupta could take his seat. National Conference legislators rushed to Rashid's rescue and saved him from further beating.

The opposition was outraged.

Opposition leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah said: "I am still unable to fully understand what happened.

"The speaker is the custodian of the house. We want to know what the chief minister has to say on this most unfortunate incident."

Abdullah said whatever the provocation, the BJP had no right to launch "a murderous attack" on him.

"We respect and understand the sentiments of other communities but that does not mean we can resort to violence to settle scores.

"Alcohol is prohibited in my religion. Consumption of pork is prohibited in my religion but that doesn't mean I should attack everyone who consumes alcohol or pork," Abdullah said.

A furious Rashid called his beating "a shame on Indian democracy" and said seven or eight BJP legislators were involved in the attack.

Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who rules the state with the BJP as his ally, said the attack was "condemnable and I condemn it.

"I request Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh to stand up and apologize for the misconduct of the BJP MLAs," Sayeed said.

Nirmal Singh complied, saying whatever had happened was unfortunate and he disapproved it but added that what Rashid had done the previous day was "both condemnable and unfortunate".

His reference was to a beef party Rashid hosted in the MLA Hostel on Wednesday evening. Several BJP legislators, who also stay in the hostel, had been looking for him since then.

Since Nirmal Singh stopped short of issuing a clear apology, opposition members, CPI-M's Yusuf Tarigami and independents including Rashid trooped out of the assembly.

The deputy chief minister then made another statement.

"I have said earlier the incident is unfortunate. I have already condemned it. I feel sorry about it," he said.

He said he condemned the assault and felt sorry about it.

The opposition legislators returned to the house following persuasion by Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari.

In Hyderabad, MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi demanded action against the BJP legislators who assaulted Rashid.

"In my view, he (Rashid) has not done anything illegal. The Supreme Court has stayed the beef ban. He had brought cooked food from outside," Owaisi told the media. - IANS