Panaji: The proceedings on the last day of the budget session in the state legislative assembly began on a stormy note on Friday, with a protest by the Opposition MLAs over the midnight arrest of Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte.
Police had arrested Khaunte for allegedly threatening BJP spokesperson Premanand Mhambre. Khaunte was then taken to Porvorim police station and later released on bail.
Wearing black ribbons on their arms as a mark of protest, the members on the Opposition bench said that the complaint against Khaunte was ‘bogus’. They urged Speaker Rajesh Patnekar to file a police complaint against Mhambre, as the incident was reported within the premises of the assembly complex, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Speaker. They also sought access to the CCTV footage of the incident.
“What we demand in the assembly has to be given immediately, as it is suo motu. Today, with the signatures of all the Opposition members, I am again asking you to give me the CCTV surveillance footage, consent letter given to arrest me and any other information that you or your office has provided to the police for my arrest,” Khaunte said.
“Everyone has put up the issue before you but no decision is coming out. May be some pressure is around. But what has happened with me today can happen with anyone next. The incident is a clear indication that any MLA, Zilla Panchayat member, panchayat member or any common man can be arrested by filing such a complaint,” he further said.
The leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat pleaded before the Speaker that he should resolve the issue.
Patnekar expressed his inability to fulfill their demand. “Yesterday, you disrupted the House…Unnecessarily how can I go and file a complaint? I have acted as per the police report,” the Speaker said in response to the Opposition MLAs and adjourned the House for one hour which resulted in no legislative work being carried out during the question hour.
Later, all the ten Opposition MLAs, in a written application submitted to the Speaker, demanded CCTV footage of the incident, the ‘report’ of the Porvorim police seeking the consent of the Speaker to arrest Khaunte and any other information pertaining to the particular incident.
After the session commenced at 12:30 pm, Deputy Speaker Isidore Fernandes took over the Speaker’s chair and started the proceedings. The ten Opposition MLAs then gathered in the well of the House raising slogans such as ‘shame, shame’ and ‘we want justice’ after which the Deputy Speaker ordered the marshals to remove Khaunte and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai from the House. The remaining eight MLAs staged a walkout.