KOLKATA: West Bengal Assembly on Wednesday witnessed pandemonium during the tabling of the 'West Bengal Maintenance of Public Order (Amendment) Bill 2017' with the Speaker suspending leader of Opposition and Congress MLA Abdul Mannan.
The Congress leader fell sick during the scuffle and was taken to a hospital in an ambulance.
In the scuffle over the passage of Bill imposing payment of compensation on public properties damaged during violent protests Congress MLA Manoj Chakraborty repeated the feat of Tripura MLA Sudip Roy Burman by snatching the speaker's mace.
However, he was caught mid-way by the marshall and the mace was returned to the speaker. The bill was passed unopposed after Left and Congress MLAs staged a walkout from the Assembly.
Terming the amendment of the bill as 'draconian' and claiming that it was aimed at curbing the right to protest, Congress and Left MLAs wore dresses made out of photographs of the vandalism unleashed by Trinamool Congress MLAs in the Assembly on December 1, 2006, when Mamata Banerjee was prevented from proceeding towards Singur.
Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay asked the opposition MLAs to take off the poster dresses and settle down for discussing the bill. Opposition leader Abdul Mannan refused to oblige and took dresses of other MLAs and wore them. To this, the speaker suspended Mannan from Assembly and asked him to leave.
However, Mannan refused to leave and sat in the well of the Assembly in protest. He was guarded by other Congress and CPM MLAs. Stormy scenes began after speaker asked the marshall and security guards to evict Mannan from the Assembly.
The opposition leaders tried to prevent the eviction of Mannan. In the ruckus that ensued, Opposition claimed that Congress MLA Pratima Rajak was molested. According to the marshall, 11 security persons were injured during the ruckus and were given first aid.
As a result of the uproar, Mannan took ill and was shifted to SSKM hospital. Trinamool MLAs and medical practitioners Manas Bhunia and Shashi Panja went to meet him.
The amendment of the 1972 Act has now made the destruction of public property in the name of agitation punishable by compensating with the destroyer's private property. Earlier, it was punishable but did not entail compensation with one's own property. On the other hand, West Bengal chief minister termed the incident as unfortunate.
"It is unfortunate and unprecedented that the opposition does
not pay heed to the speaker. The bill would help protect people's property and establish democracy," she said.
Denouncing the bill at a press conference after the incident, Left legislative leader Sujan Chakraborty said that jizya tax (imposed by emperor Aurangazeb on non-Muslims) was better than the new bill.
“In jizya there was an option to avoid it by coming on emperor's side. But, this bill will snatch people's property in the name of safeguarding public property," he said.
The Opposition has decided to boycott the tabling of Higher Education Bill 2017 on Thursday as well as the general budget to be presented on Friday at the State Assembly. They would hold protest dharna near Ambedkar statue outside the Assembly, he added.