Dehradun: Pandemonium erupted on the first day of the Budget Session in Uttarakhand Assembly on Thursday after the Opposition BJP pressed the government for withdrawal of a case of rioting against a party MLA, leading to adjournment of the proceedings for over an hour.
The moment the House assembled for the day, Leader of Opposition Ajay Bhatt rose from his seat to raise the issue, claiming that BJP MLA Rajkumar Thukral was being treated as an ordinary criminal despite being "innocent".
Insisting that the MLA has been framed, Bhatt, supported by several other BJP members including former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, demanded immediate withdrawal of the case as "the honour and dignity of a member of the House was at stake”.
When appeals from the Speaker to BJP MLAs asking them to resume their seats went unheeded, Chief Minister Harish Rawat told the House that he was not fully aware of the details of the case and he could assure that the matter could be sorted out in consultation with the Speaker, the officials and the opposition members.
However, led by Bhatt, BJP legislators stormed into the well of the House claiming such assurances in the past had finally come to nothing and insisting that the case be immediately withdrawn.
As BJP members refused to calm down, the Speaker adjourned the house for nearly half an hour till 11:30 am.
The adjournment was extended twice, once till 11:45 am and then till 12:20 pm during which the Chief Minister is believed to have found out the details of the case in consultation with the opposition members, the speaker and the officials including the DGP and principal secretary, Home, Om Prakash.
After the House reassembled, Rawat assured the opposition members that the officials have been instructed to find a legally correct solution to the matter by this evening.
However, he said as the matter was subjudice, the details of his discussion with officials regarding the matter could not be disclosed on the floor of the House.
"Protecting the honour and dignity of a member is not just the responsibility of the opposition but ours too," Rawat said.
This calmed the opposition members with Bhatt saying they had no reason not to believe in the assurance given by the Leader of the House.
On the run for months after issuance of an arrest warrant against him in connection with communal riots in Rudrapur in 2011, Thukral has been declared an absconder and his property has been attached.
Police have also announced a reward of Rs 2,500 on information leading to his arrest.
Riots erupted in Rudrapur in 2011 after torn pages of a holy book were found outside a place of worship in the town, killing four and injuring over 60 others.