Congress stages walkout in Himachal assembly over Naina Devi stampede

September 1st, 2008 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Sep 1 (IANS) The Congress Monday staged a walkout on the first day of the monsoon session of the Himachal Pradesh assembly, demanding a judicial inquiry into the Naina Devi stampede in Bilaspur district Aug 3 in which 142 people were killed.Raising the issue during a calling attention motion, Leader of Opposition in the assembly, Vidya Stokes demanded that the probe be conducted either by a sitting or a retired judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

“Despite our repeated demands, the government has not ordered a judicial investigation into the stampede and instead ordered an inquiry by a divisional commissioner,” she said.

Stokes blamed government “mismanagement” for the tragedy.

Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Kaul Singh said: “The probe by a government official will never highlight the faults. It’s just a cover-up exercise”.

“At the time of the incident there was no proper security arrangement and even doctors were not deployed in required strength,” he said.

Replying to the discussion, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said at this point in time there was no need to demand a judicial probe as the government had not gone through the contents of the report.

“The government has not gone through the finding of the inquiry report as the inquiry officer submitted the report Aug 30. Now it is with the state home department. After the clearance from the home department, the Cabinet will discuss it,” he said.

“If the Opposition wants to give some suggestions in improving the management of devotees at religious places, they can give these to us,” Dhumal replied.

This agitated the members of the Opposition, who walked out from the assembly.

Cabinet minister J.P. Nadda told reporters after the assembly session that the Congress had no agenda and “it is a totally directionless party. Instead of debating the issue in the House, they preferred to stage a walkout”.

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