State legislative assembly speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone apologized on TV channels for his un-publishable utterances in the house and ordered expunging of the same from the records.
But that neither erased the memories nor prevented him from getting into the history books for all the wrong reasons. It will continue to be one of the last references of how the decorum of an institution was compromised.
On October 3 pandemonium was ruling the house as the opposition PDP members were pressing for an adjournment motion. They were insisting that the case of death in custody of ruling party activist and fixer Haji Syed Mohammad Yousuf was not an ordinary case and it deserved to be taken up for discussion.
Speaker adjourned the house. When the house resumed business the ruling coalition members were on their toes against the motion. The Speaker read out his verdict disallowing the motion saying since the case stood referred to a Judicial Commission any discussion can influence it. While he permitted former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig to make a statement the treasury benches disallowed him.
It was during this sitting that Speaker Lone used certain humiliating and seriously shocking invectives against opposition leader Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari. He might have been reacting to the Shia cleric’s provocation but that nobody heard in the din. Since the surcharged proceedings were being telecast live, it shocked millions outside J&K as well.
After another adjournment the Speaker apologized but the damage was done. There were small instances of protests in Pattan and Sonawari areas and the next day a protest outside the assembly. Molvi skipped remaining days of the session. All the NC veterans who were sitting in the house but they did not react, looking complicit. These included chief minister, his finance and law ministers besides other senior lawmakers. Some of them were actually seen laughing over what was happening in the house.
Lone who represents Sonawari constituency in the assembly is a lawyer. There have been a number of instances in which his conduct of the business of the house was not appreciated. Ever since he was elected as the custodian of the house, the opposition alleged Lone of not accommodating them.
At the peak of 2010 crisis the Speaker’s hand and finger gestures towards Mehbooba Mufti made international news. Deputy Speaker Sartaj Madni resigned over that incident.
Many in NC and opposition think that at the peak of Shopian crisis in 2009, when opposition felt chocked in the house, they finally resorted to that infamous sting offering serial numbers of people involved in a sex racket. His colleagues in the party say Lone is soft at heart and comes around fast once he realizes a mistake.