32 Congress legislators suspended from Chhattisgarh assembly (Lead)

February 3rd, 2009 - 5:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Feb 3 (IANS) Thirty-two legislators of Chhattisgarh’s opposition Congress party were suspended for a day from the state assembly Tuesday after they trooped towards the speaker’s podium protesting the alleged killing of tribals by the police.Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik suspended the Congress members as they marched towards his chair, demanding that either a house panel or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe the Jan 8 killing of 17 tribals allegedly by the police in Dantewada district.

The Congress has a strength of 38 in the 90-member house. Six members of the party were absent.

The suspension was made under Rule-250 of the assembly. Those suspended include leader of opposition Ravindra Choubey, deputy leader of opposition Rampukar Singh, former chief minister Ajit Jogi and his wife Renu Jogi.

The Congress had moved an adjournment motion wanting to discuss the issue but there was uproar when state Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar said the police had “killed Naxalites (Maoists) in a gun battle and not civilians”.

He added that the House could not debate the killing as the matter was before the high court and, therefore, sub-judice.

Kanwar said that the police had taken photographs of the bodies of those killed and those saying that civilians were killed in the operation want to “bring down the morale of the police force”.

The minister said the government had ordered a magisterial inquiry and that the sub-divisional magistrate of Dantewada was conducting the probe.

While opposition members shouted slogans against the BJP continuing in power, Kanwar said: “It (the allegations) is part of the nefarious campaign to term the encounter as killing of civilians just to check the police offensive against Maoists.”

Angry Congress members asked how the government could say that civilians were not killed in the operation, especially when an inquiry ordered by the government was underway.

“The government must order a CBI probe or by a committee of the state assembly to ascertain the truth behind the Jan 8 killings,” Congress member and former home minister Nandkumar Patel told the assembly amid much slogan-shouting.

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