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‘Smoke swirled up from canisters, MPs rushed to catch the intruders’

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The day began with a tribute to the martyrs of the terror attack on Parliament exactly 22 years ago, on December 13, 2001. I was at the Parliament Gate when terrorists struck, and on Wednesday, I was seated in the Lok Sabha press gallery when yellow smoke and sloganeering intruders disrupted the House.

The tributes had been paid, and the business of the House commenced. It was around 1 p.m., and the zero hour was on. Lok Sabha Member from Meerut (UP), Rajendra Agrawal, was the presiding officer in the House while MPs were raising different matters of public importance. The attendance was rather thin in the press gallery; I was perhaps one of eight or 10 journalists seated there. Even the Lok Sabha chamber had very few MPs. There are six galleries in the new building — four for visitors and two for the media. All the galleries are located on the first floor of the building. Compared to the old building, the distance between the floor of the chamber and the visitors’ gallery is not much.

The slow start of the day was suddenly disrupted. Amazingly, I saw a young man (later identified as Sagar Sharma) jumping from the visitors’ gallery. He was followed by another, later identified as Manoranjan. First, I thought he had accidentally fallen, but I was wrong. After he fell, he stood up and sprinted into the House, hooping on to the last row. Soon enough, he had started jumping rows and shouting. He was also trying to take off his shoe.

There was major commotion in the House. But the MPs gained composure soon. Some MPs ran to catch the intruder, along with the watch and ward staff. But before they could overpower him, the man had managed to take out a canister, which started releasing yellow smoke. The other young man stood near the entry gate and used another canister to create a smokescreen. The centre of the chamber was soon submerged in yellow smoke.

While the smoke was swirling up, the two men shouted, ‘Tanashahi Nahi Chalegi, Samvidhan ki Raksha karni hai (No to dictatorship. Preserve the Constitution).’

Meanwhile, Speaker Om Birla came out of his chamber to the House and announced adjournment. Both men were taken out by the watch and ward staff and later handed over to security officials. All the visitors were asked to vacate the gallery immediately.

Earlier, when I was approaching the Parliament building from the Transport Bhawan side, I saw green and yellow smoke. I thought it could be some kind of custom in memory of those who lost their lives 22 years ago. However, soon I saw Delhi Police taking two people (one later identified as Amol and another as Neelam). I asked and I was told they used canisters to release the smoke, shouting slogans such as “Tanashahi Nahi Chalegi, Samvidhan ki Raksha karni hai.’



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