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ICC Note:

State legislators take sides in chaotic session on issue of Christian school and orphanage Emmanuel Mission International.

The Hindu (03/22/06) – A physical brawl between two MLAs belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition Congress over attacks by radical organisations on Christians was prevented in the Rajasthan Assembly on Tuesday by intervention of senior members. The House was plunged into pandemonium and adjourned twice to control the situation.

The matter of the Christian community being targeted in the State and the alleged complicity of a Minister in the radical organisations’ campaign came up in the House with the mention of a huge protest march and demonstration taking place outside the Assembly. The Congress members pointed out that Christians were being harassed on the pretext of ban on a book, “Haqeeqat”.

Harimohan Sharma, a Congress MLA, said while thousands of Christians and civil rights activists had gathered outside the Assembly to register their protest, Social Welfare Minister Madan Dilawar had openly violated all constitutional norms by spreading religious hatred through his utterances. “Mr. Dilawar should immediately be expelled from the Cabinet to protect the rule of law,” he said.

The ruling BJP members, taking strong exception to Mr. Sharma’s charge, created a din and accused the Congress of siding with “anti-national elements” who had insulted Hindu deities and Indian culture through the controversial book. Banshilal Khateek, BJP MLA from Rajsamand, used `unparliamentary’ language against the entire Opposition at this stage and accused the Congress of abetting a “Christian conspiracy”. This provoked the Congress members to react strongly with all the Opposition members protesting against abusive remarks.

When an agitated Raghuvir Singh Meena, Congress MLA from Sarada, tried to advance towards Mr. Khateek menacingly by crossing the benches, senior Opposition members rushed to stop him.

The BJP MLAs also formed a wall to protect Mr. Khateek and resisted Mr. Meena’s move. The treasury and Opposition members shouted at each other in the clamour even as both the sides avoided a direct physical confrontation.

However, an irrepressible Mr. Dilawar affirmed that he would continue to oppose the activities of Emmanuel Mission International in the Kota region, saying it was a matter of “national pride”. Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said the EMI officials believed to be involved in the Hindi translation of the controversial book would not be spared.

The lone CPI (M) MLA, Amra Ram, who returned to the House after addressing the rally, said the BJP-led Government was hounding the Christian institutions to divert attention from its communal agenda. Deputy Speaker Ramnarain Bishnoi adjourned the House twice for half-an-hour each time to sort out the issue.