Bill to curb vandalism ends in chaos

Bill to curb vandalism ends in chaos

 The West Bengal state Assembly turned into a scene of chaos on Wednesday over the passing of a Bill, which would make people damaging public property during protests in Kolkata and elsewhere pay mandatory compensation.

Even though the government eventually passed the Bill, Opposition parties got down to loud demands, asking for compensation for past cases, particularly against the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) during its days in the Opposition.

Angry scenes unfolded inside the House as Opposition parties tried to put the treasury bench in a corner, to remind the Trinamool MLAs of how they had unleashed violent protests inside the Assembly premises on November 30, 2006 as part of its protests against police action at Singur.

Trinamool MLAs had vandalised the House, breaking and dismantling furniture dating back to the days of the British Raj, besides injuring a number of Assembly staff.

No sooner had the discussion on the Bill started, than the Congress and Left Front MLAs, who had come armed with posters with photographs showing TMC violence, raised slogans against the ruling party.

When Opposition MLAs refused to stop their agitation even after Speaker Biman Banerjee urged Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Abdul Mannan to calm  down, the speaker ruled that Mannan is suspended from the House for wearing a similar poster around his neck. As Mannan refused to leave the House despite the speaker’s orders, security personnel tried to force him out but got into a scuffle with the Opposition MLAs, who formed a cordon around Mannan.

In the fracas, 61-year-old Mannan fell ill and had to be admitted to hospital, causing Congress and Left MLAs to stage a walkout in protest.

While the Bill was passed unopposed on voice vote, with no Opposition MLAs in presence, the speaker directed the Assembly staff to assess the damage to Assembly property during the day.

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