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Parliament adjourned over soldiers' killing

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Parliament adjourned over soldiers killing
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New Delhi: Parliament was adjourned till 2 p.m. Wednesday as the BJP attacked the government over the killing of Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir. The main opposition demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh make a statement and accused Defence Minister A.K. Antony of having misled both houses on the issue.

Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were disrupted for the second consecutive day and adjourned till 2 p.m. over the killing of Indian soldiers Tuesday by Pakistani troops.

As soon as the lower house assembled, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj questioned the government on the differences in the statements made by Antony and the defence ministry on the ambush Tuesday.

"The defence minister gave a statement but we came to know later that the defence ministry also gave a press statement," Swaraj said in the house.

She said that while the defence ministry's statement said the Pakistan Army was responsible, the minister gave "a clean chit to it".

"This is a grave issue," Swaraj said demanding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh make a statement.

Minutes after the remarks by Swaraj, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the house till noon as the opposition MPs created a ruckus.

The Left members raised the issue of political killings in West Bengal under Trinamool Congress Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Congress members from Seemandhra region protested against the formation of Telangana and the Bodoland People's Front MP S.K. Bwiswamuthiary pitched for carving Bodoland out of Assam.

When the house reconvened, the scene was the same.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha termed Antony's statement as "most laughable" and said he has given a breach of privilege notice against him for misleading the house.

"It seems as if he (Antony) is on Pakistan Army's side. It was a most laughable statement, as the army has clearly stated that Pakistani soldiers were involved and army is on the ground they know better than what prime minister and defence minister know," Sinha said.

"I have given a breach of privilege notice," he said.

Speaker said in the house she was considering it.

As chaos ruled, she again adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

After five Indian soldiers were killed early Tuesday in Jammu and Kashmir, Antony said in a statement in the two houses: "The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform."

The issue rocked the Rajya Sabha too.

The Rajya Sabha saw four adjournments over the issue, missing the question hour, while zero hour mentions were laid on the table of the house without being read.

The first adjournment came soon after question hour began at 11 a.m. BJP's M. Venkaiah Naidu said the government has let down the nation.

"Defence minister made a statement yesterday (Tuesday) (and) defence ministry release said something else... the defence minister should clarify and apologise," Naidu said, adding: "He has let down the country."

As opposition members created a din demanding clarification, Chairman M. Hamid Ansari adjourned the house first for 15 minutes and then till noon. At noon, similar scenes were witnessed, forcing another brief adjournment for 15 minutes.

When the house reassembled, Defence Minister A.K. Antony defended his earlier remark saying he had to be "careful" while giving a statement.

"As a defence minister, when I make a statement I have to be careful. I made a statement yesterday (Tuesday)... today (Wednesday) the Army Chief (Gen. Bikram Singh) has gone to the area... if I have any more details, I will come back to you," Antony assured members in the Rajya Sabha.

This agitated the opposition members who questioned if it should be interpreted that the minister did not have any information on the incident.

"If he has to rely on the army chief to get facts, does that mean the minister had no information," BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad asked.

As Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien tried to defend the minister, Naidu said the chair should not intervene.

BJP members then moved near the chairman's podium, after which Kurien adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

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