Sakina Itoo

In an otherwise raucous state assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, heckling of members is nothing new. The house, after the execution of Afzal Guru in Tihar Jail on February 9, had witnessed high drama and emotional scenes.

Last week, an annoyed BJP member Jugal Kishore heckled social welfare minister, Sakina Itoo, apparently not happy with her replies to a number of questions raised in the assembly.

On March 19 after the house was adjourned for a brief time. National Conference and Congress law makers fought each other, during the verbal fight Congress lawmakers accused speaker Mubarak Gul of not knowing how to manage the proceedings of the house.

Kishore was dismissed later from the assembly by Speaker of the house for rest of the budget session for passing derogatory remarks towards Itoo, after taking the consent of House.

The trouble began soon after zero-hour, when consumer affairs and public distribution minister, Chowdhary Mohammad Ramzan was addressing the House, BJP legislator, Jugal Kishor intervened and claimed that Sakina Itoo is misleading the House by her wrong replies. At this, Itoo made some comments over the BJP legislator’s demand, leading to high-pitched verbal clashes between the two.

Later, several National Conference ministers jostled with him as the Speaker Mubarak Gul ordered his marshalling out.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stood to say that incident in the House “downs our head with shame”. “At one side we talk of protecting women and giving them respect and on the other side the elected representatives demonstrate such a disrespectful and aggressive behaviour against a lady member,” Omar said.

Born on December 5, 1970 Sakina Itoo is the daughter of former speaker of the J&K legislative assembly, late Wali Mohammad Itoo. After her father’s death, Itoo left her studies (she was a final year MBBS student) and joined National Conference. She was elected to the 1996 assembly and was appointed as deputy minister for education in the Farooq Abdullah government. She won the 2008 assembly elections from her constituency, Noorabad with a winning margin of 4,518 votes.

On Sep 15, 2002 then minister of state for Tourism, Itoo escaped an assassination bid on her life when militants triggered IED as her motorcade passed near Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam area of Anantnag district. This was the second attempt on her life within five days. Earlier, a grenade was hurled inside her house in Hanjipora injuring four of her party activists.

In July 8, 2006 Sakina had a narrow escape after a grenade was hurled to her rally in Kulgam. Just two days after Kulgam was granted district status with celebrations being held across, a grenade was hurled at Sakina Itoo’s entourage killing five persons, including former National Conference MLA and district party president Ghulam Nabi Dar on spot and injuring 45. Sakina escaped with minor injuries.

Sakina, whose father was killed in 1990, has survived nearly a dozen attacks since joining politics in 1996. So far, she has survived six attempts on her life.

Sameer Yasir


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