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The 8 minutes that mocked Parliament, shamed democracy

By A Correspondent
Last updated on: February 13, 2014 17:07 IST
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The United Progressive Alliance government knew trouble was lurking as it moved forward to table the controversial Telangana bill in Parliament on Thursday. Within a span of eight minutes, the government's worst nightmare came alive and democracy was shamed. rewinds the clock as it struck noon to unravel how things went awfully wrong:

1201 hours: The Intelligence Bureau had warned the government and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar that there would be violence in Parliament on Thursday. The government still decided to go ahead with its decision to table the Telangana bill.

The Special Protection Group, the government's executive protection agency, was so agitated that it deployed senior staff in the officials' gallery to protect Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.

1203 hours: The prime minister asked senior ministers to ensure safety inside the House.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath were overseeing the security arrangements inside the Lok Sabha.

1204 hours: Gas emanated in the Lok Sabha. Many saw expelled

Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal, who is opposed to the idea of creating the Telangana state, using pepper spray on other MPs.

Rajagopal apparently pulled out a cigar lighter-type spray from his kurta pocket and began to spray towards the BJP side. He was pushed from the Treasury benches.

1206 hours: Many media persons, who were seated in the press gallery above the Speaker, began coughing and placing handkerchiefs over their faces to evade the fumes.

1207 hours: Four doors of the Central Hall, which consists of the chambers of the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and the Library Hall, were opened to let the fumes out.

An unwell Meira Kumar was rushed home. Parliament's doctor was rushed into the Lok Sabha to help other lawmakers who were seen coughing.

Three MPs were taken to hospital after they complained of burning sensation in their eyes.

1208 hours: Madhu Goud Yaskhi, the Congress MP from Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh, was seen running towards the Central Hall.

Many MPs, including BJP MP Anurag Thakur and Congress MPs Raj Babbar and Mohammad Azharuddin, tried to calm him down.

Yashki claimed that Rajagopal had hit him and that he would attack others. He told security personnel that other MPs had knives and lighters in their possession.

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A Correspondent in New Delhi