Media persons covering a rather noisy tabling of the Telangana bill in Lok Sabha were in for a shock Thursday when they bore the brunt of pepper spray used by agitated Congress MP L. Rajagopal.
Journalists in the media gallery, directly above the speaker’s podium, were bending down to see the ruckus when Speaker Meira Kumar tried to bring the house to order at noon.
Suddenly Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member M. Venugopala uprooted a microphone and broke the glass on the secretary general’s table.
A fist fight broke out between MPs for and against Telangana, and before anybody could gather their wits, Rajagopal, who was also standing near the speaker’s podium, started spraying pepper everywhere.
It was a good five minutes before the reporters realised what was happening and started running towards the exit. However, it was blocked by the large number of media persons who had come to cover the tabling of the much awaited Telangana bill.
Even as the journalists scampered outside and started calling up their offices to dictate a story on the unprecedented incident in the Lok Sabha, some were seen rushing to the washrooms to wash their stinging eyes.
Some reporters even complained of nausea. Others said they felt choked and were seen constantly coughing.
When the house reassembled at 2 p.m., the pungent odour of the pepper spray still hung in the air of the media gallery.
Though some of the MPs were rushed to the hospital, media persons continued to do what they know best – reporting.