A reporter’s account of today’s Lok Sabha violence

NDTV journalist and live witness to today’s #SeemandhraTerrorism Sandeep Phukan explains what happened in Lok Sabha:

Blog: A reporter’s account of today’s Lok Sabha violence

New Delhi: As I walked in to get into the press gallery of Lok Sabha, I was stopped by Parliament security personnel to see if I was carrying any harmful substance. It was not the usual practice but today was different.

Today, everybody in Parliament was on the edge. One of the Seemandhra MPs, opposed to creation of Telangana, had threatened to carry out a self immolation inside the Lok Sabha.

After some back and forth, the government decided to introduce the bill at 12 noon. And everyone expected trouble. Once inside, I positioned myself on the front row of the press gallery so that I don’t miss out anything.

Everything looked calm as MPs exchanged pleasantries. Predictable faces had come to the well of the House to protest and support Telangana, depending on which side of the debate one was in.

I saw TDP MP Venugopal, who had snatched a pen yesterday from a Parliament official inside the Lok Sabha, moving towards left side of the Speaker’s chair. He was well built and I thought to myself that if he were to carry out a misadventure, it would not be easy for his colleagues to control him. He stopped just in front Sushma Swaraj’s seat. She was seated on her seat.

On the other side, just in front of Sharad Pawar and Kamal Nath’s seats, Telangana MPs wet stationed. I saw G S Vivek and Jaganathan waiting expectantly.

Just as the clock struck 12 and the Speaker walked in, Venugopal moved menacingly to the Lok Sabha Secretary General’s chair.

The official was not on his seat, but Venugopal pulled out the mic from his desk. Suddenly, Lok Sabha turned into a battleground. Ponnam Prabhakar of the Congress and Jaganthan of the TRS rushed in to Venugopal.

Suddenly, there was a loud noise and when I looked towards my right, I saw the glass cover of an electronic gadget – to count division of votes – smashed.

Suddenly, Jagan Reddy was moving in to the well of the House. And as the Home Minister moved the Telangana bill, I saw L Rajagopal, an expelled Congress MP, taking a spray and indiscriminately spraying inside Lok Sabha. Ponnam Prabhakar moved behind and tried to control.

Most were in a state of shock and disbelief. Parliament security moved in and advised members to leave the House as none knew what the substance was. Some were coughing, others still trying to figure out what happened.

Within a few minutes, most MPs including Rahul Gandhi left Lok Sabha. I rushed out of the gallery to speak to MPs who were leaving. As Rahul was waiting for his car at gate no 4, we, a group of journalists, tried to ask him what he thought. He avoided an answer as he boarded his Tata Safari. But another distinguished parliamentarian, Jaswant Singh, described it all in just one word: disgrace.


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