December 14, 2023
NEW DELHI – In a major security breach coinciding with the 22nd anniversary of the 2001 Parliament attack, two men carrying smoke canisters on Wednesday gained unauthorised entry into the Lower House, leading to dramatic scenes and an abrupt adjournment of the House.
The men, carrying canisters emitting yellow smoke, jumped from the visitor’s gallery into the Lok Sabha. The incident took place during the Zero Hour and the House was adjourned till 2 pm.
During the time of the incident, BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal was in the Speaker’s chair, while West Bengal’s Maldah MP Khagen Murmu was addressing the session.
In a video shared by news agency ANI, one of the intruders, wearing a blue jacket, can be seen jumping on the chairs in the Lower House as someone in the background shouts “pakdo isko” (catch him).
According to eyewitnesses, the intruders shouted “Tanashahi nahi chalegi” (dictatorship won’t be accepted) before opening the smoke canisters that were hidden in their shoes.
While the dramatic scenes unfolded inside, two of their associates held similar protests outside the Parliament building. They were detained by the Delhi police while protesting with smoke canisters. Neelam, one of the detainees who identified herself for TV cameras, said they are just students and raising their voices against injustice and unemployment.
The two men were caught by a few MPs and the staff deployed inside the Lower House of Parliament.
The House resumed at 2 pm and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla informed the members that a thorough investigation of the incident is being carried out and Delhi police have been given essential instructions.
“A thorough investigation of the incident that took place during the zero hour, is being done. Essential instructions have also been given to Delhi Police. In the primary investigation, it has been found that it was just smoke and there is no need to worry..,” he said.
The Speaker said both the intruders have been nabbed along with two other associates from outside the Parliament.
“Both of them have been nabbed and the materials with them have also been seized. The two people outside the Parliament have also been arrested by police…,” he added.
According to reports, the two have been identified as Sagar Sharma and Manoranjan.
MP Kunwar Danish Ali shared a picture of the intruders’ Lok Sabha public gallery pass. “In a chilling reminder to the Parliament attack 21 years back on the same day (Dec 13), a man jumped from visitor’s gallery into Lok Sabha MPs area. The breach could’ve put the lives of MPs in danger,” he said.Later, Delhi Police chief Sanjay Arora and CRPF DG Anish Dayal Singh arrived at the Parliament building to take stock of the situation.
According to police, Neelam (42), a resident of Hisar, and Amol Shinde (25), a resident of Latur in Maharashtra, who were protesting outside the Parliament have been arrested.
Neelam was heard shouting “Tanashahi nahi chalegi, mahilao pe atyachaar nahi chalega (stop dictatorship, crime on women)”.
Teams of forensic experts and other security officials also reached the Parliament, where the security was stepped up around the premises and the adjoining area.
An all-party meeting has also been called over the security breach that reminded the memories of the deadly Parliament attack that took place on the same day in 2001.
Opposition MPs criticised the massive security lapse and expressed concerns regarding their safety inside the House.
“Anything could have happened inside the Lok Sabha today,” Samajwadi Party MP Dimple Yadav said, adding that “it was a complete security lapse”.
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram echoed her sentiments and said “the smoke could have been poisonous”.
“This is a serious breach of security especially on December 13, the day Parliament was attacked in 2001…,” he added.
Narrating the incident, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said it was a terrible incident and asked how the intruders were allowed to enter the House with smoke canisters.
“It was a terrible experience. Nobody could guess what was their target and why were they doing this. We all left the House immediately, but it was a security lapse. How could they enter with instruments releasing smoke?” he asked.
“The issue is very serious. This is not a question of just Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, this is about how two people were able to come inside despite such elaborate security and cause a security breach,” Congress MP and the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said in the upper house.