India Politics
Staged killings, canal project disrupt Lok Sabha
May 9, 2007 - 5:43:37 PM

New Delhi, May 9 - The Lok Sabha proceedings were abruptly adjourned for the third consecutive day Wednesday with ruling coalition and Samajwadi Party members insisting on a discussion over the police-engineered killings in Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party - protesting a canal project off Tamil Nadu's coast.

The lower house, which witnessed two adjournments earlier in the day, was adjourned for the day at 3 p.m. after BJP MPs stalled a discussion over the Sethusamudram Canal project and a row over its alignment, saying that it would destroy an ancient bridge believed to have been built by Hindu god Ram that once linked India and Sri Lanka.

When the house met at 3 p.m., the BJP MPs stomped towards the speaker's podium raising slogans like 'drop the Sethusamudram project' and 'we will not allow the damage to the Ram bridge.'

The house, which went through the question hour uninterrupted, plunged into chaos during zero hour when MPs sought permission to take up the issue of engineered 'encounters' by the Gujarat Police for discussion.

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee sought to point out that as per the rules a calling attention motion on the Sethusamudram Canal project is to be discussed before any other issue.

But the furious members refused to oblige and continued to be on their legs, forcing the speaker to adjourn the house till 2 p.m.

The Samajwadi Party, the Left and Congress MPs have been demanding a discussion over the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi in 'staged' police encounters.

Similar scenes were witnessed when the house met at 2 p.m. Although the speaker suggested that the house could take up the calling attention motion at 3 p.m., the BJP members said they wanted an assurance from the government that the canal project would be dropped if the alignments were not changed.

'We told the government that we would not let any business to run unless we are assured that the Ram bridge would not be damaged,' BJP deputy leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra told reporters outside parliament.

The BJP has accused the government of attempting to destroy evidence of the existence of a mythological bridge 'Ram Setu' as described in the Hindu epic Ramayana, but which it claims does exists.

The Rs.24 billion offshore shipping canal is designed to link the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka by creating a shipping canal through a 167 km-channel and reducing sailing time considerably.

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