A demonstrator demanding a separate state of Telangana is detained by Indian policemen outside the Parliament building in New Delhi (left) and an unidentified member of India"s Parliament, holding a handkerchief to his face after being affected by pepper
Hindustan Times, New Delhi : The Lok Sabha turned into a battlefield on Thursday with senior MPs scuffling as home minister Sushilkumar Shinde introduced the Telangana bill around noon. The UPA government struggled to table the bill as expelled Congress MP Lagadapati Rajagopal heightened the drama by spraying pepper spray in the air after being stopped from rushing to the Speaker’s chair. The pepper spray left several parliamentarians, staff and journalists coughing and teary-eyed. Many MPs tried to rush outside to avoid the smell and chemical effects of the spray. TDP MP Venugopal Reddy broke the Speaker’s microphone, while TV reports also claimed he brandished a knife during House proceedings. The lawmaker, however, denied the allegation saying he was merely waving the Speaker’s mic. Marshalls stepped in immediately and tried to get medical help for Rajagopal and others while another MP was rushed to the nearby Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in an ambulance that had been kept on standby. Eighteen Lok Sabha MPs were Thursday suspended for protesting when the Telangana bill was introduced in Parliament. Those suspended include L Rajagopal, expelled Congress member who had earlier sprayed pepper gas from a canister in the House, causing chaos. TDP member M Venugopala Reddy, who broke the mike, was also among the MPs suspended. One of the MPs told the media that Speaker Meira Kumar took the action following unprecedented disturbances in the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day Thursday following unending protests over Telangana. It will now meet on Monday. BBC online adds: There has been chaos in the lower house of India’s parliament after an MP 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. Rajagopal was suspended along with several other MPs. The parliament has often witnessed unruly scenes but what happened on Thursday morning is unprecedented. 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 MP 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 MPs 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. 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 5 February – 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.