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Jharkhand Assembly speaker constitutes all-party committee to review allotment of namaz room

Ranchi, September 9:  Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahto on Thursday formed an all-party panel on the last day of the Monsoon session to review decision of allotment of a ‘Namaz’ (Islamic Prayer) room in the Assembly building. The Speaker has directed the seven-member panel to submit a report within 45 days.

The notification, concerning the establishment of a ‘namaz room’, was issued on September 2 and instigated a controversy with the Opposition BJP interrupting operations both inside the House and outside during the ongoing monsoon session.

Concerned over the ruckus stirred by the Opposition, Speaker Mahto said “Disruptions over the matter affected Assembly as well as the state, sending a wrong message to the masses. We need to end the standoff in the interests of the State and its people. It is not good for MLAs as well. Under the circumstances, I took a decision to place the matter before an all-party committee and the Chair will support whatever decision is given by it,” the Speaker said.

Setting a deadline of 45-day for the panel with legislator Stephen Marandi as its convener, the speaker directed the group to come up with its report at the earliest. The committee comprises JMM’s Marandi, JVM’s Pradeep Yadav, BJP’s Neelkanth Singh Munda, JMM’s Sarfaraz Ahmed, CPI-ML’s Vinod Singh, AJSU’s Lambodar Mahto and INC’s Deepika Pandey Singh as members. Notably, the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MLA Sarfaraz Ahmad had earlier proposed that Speaker should form a committee to study whether there is a need for a Namaz room inside the Assembly building.

Dissenting to a remark that a ‘namaz’ room was allotted during his term as CM, BJP leader and former CM, Babulal Marandi said, “No such allotment was made while I was CM. Constitution of India does not permit it.”

Protesting against lathi charge and the use of water cannons on demonstrators on Wednesday, BJP legislators, sporting black straps, raised slogans like “Lathi, Goli, Wali Sarkar Nahi Chalegi”. The BJP also staged a dharna outside the Assembly.

Police had used water cannons and batons on Wednesday to break up protests by the BJP against the allotment of the ‘Namaz’ room. A row broke out in Jharkhand after the assembly speaker allotted a room in the Assembly for offering ‘Namaz’ through a notification last week. The opposition leaders have been protesting against the decision, calling it “unconstitutional.” They are also demanding a separate hall for chanting “Hanuman Chalisa” (prayers to Lord Hanuman).

Before the start of the House proceedings, the BJP members staged a dharna outside the Assembly.

Health Minister Banna Gupta reached the Assembly driving an auto, enraged over a remark in Assembly by BJP MLA C. P. Singh earlier, which was expunged. He told reporters that when a Chaiwala (person selling tea) can become Prime Minister, why can’t an auto driver from the backward and Dalit community could become a Health Minister.

The BJP which had taken to the streets against the decision to allow a ‘Namaz’ room in the Assembly is observing a ‘Black Day’ on Thursday against the ‘lathi charge’ of its workers and asked all its activists to sport black badges.

BJP leaders have accused the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand government for its “appeasement policy” saying it was hardly bothered about constitutional values and tradition.

A row broke out in Jharkhand after the Assembly speaker allotted a room in the

Assembly for offering ‘Namaz’ through a notification last week.

The Opposition leaders have been protesting against the decision, calling it “unconstitutional.” They are also demanding a separate hall for chanting “Hanuman Chalisa.”

The Monsoon session that began on September 3 remained stormy and witnessed protests by the main opposition BJP over the allotment both inside and outside the House.

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