Telangana protest: Pepper spray fired in Indian parliament over new state bill
India’s lower house of parliament erupted in mayhem after a legislator used pepper spray to disrupt proceedings.
The MP from the governing Congress party, L Rajagopal, was protesting against a plan to create the new state of Telangana in southern India.
Some members had to be taken to hospital. L Rajagopal was suspended along with several other MPs.
The parliament has often witnessed unruly scenes but what happened on Thursday morning is unprecedented.
L Rajagopal smashed a glass and used pepper spray on his colleagues when Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tried to table the bill to create Telangana, which will be carved out of Andhra Pradesh state.
Some unconfirmed reports said another legislator pulled out a knife. Several other MPs were reportedly involved in clashes with their opponents.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) reported that four ambulances were called in and an unspecified number of members of parliament were taken to hospital.
Indian television showed members of parliament leaving the colonial-era building coughing and spluttering, some wiping their eyes.
“Members tried to use gas in the house… gas the house… I did not see, but I am informed that there was a knife, there was gas, there were other kinds of weapons,” PTI quoted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath as saying.
“The circumstances and incidents which took place in the house are a big blot on our parliamentary democracy,” he added.
The entire session of the current parliament – which began on February 5 – has been disrupted by those against the creation of Telangana.
Telangana, with a population of 35 million, would comprise 10 of Andhra Pradesh’s 23 districts, including the city of Hyderabad.
Backers of the new state say the area has been neglected by the government.
Those against the idea are unhappy that Hyderabad, home to many major information technology and pharmaceutical companies, would become a shared state capital for 10 years after which it would remain with Telangana while Andhra Pradesh would have to develop a new capital.
Last month, lawmakers of the Congress party, which governs Andhra Pradesh, opposed a proposal to split the state.
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