In an ongoing stalemate in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, the Congress demanded an apology from Human Resource Development minister Smriti Irani for derogatory remarks on Durga that she read out from a document on Thursday. During a debate on the arrest of Jawaharlal Nehru University students on charges of sedition, Irani had read out parts of a pamphlet circulated at the university that had derogatory references to the goddess. The Congress has demanded an apology and said nothing “blasphemous” should be said in the House. They also asked that Irani be arrested.
Irani said she had read from “authenticated documents” from JNU and that it was in response to questions she was asked on the ongoing issue at the university, and the government’s role in it. The Rajya Sabha’s deputy chairman PJ Kurien said the House would expunge her remarks if it found them blasphemous.
Meanwhile in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar defended the Centre’s decision to allow troops to remain in the Siachen glacier region of Jammu and Kashmir. Recently, ten soldiers died in an avalanche in the region, which is the highest battlefield in the world. The government’s decision to keep Indian troops there has come into question following their deaths. Parrikar said that he knew the country was “paying a price” for soldiers who remained in Siachen, but that strategically, the area was very important for India. He added that if the enemy occupied Siachen, it would be nearly impossible to recover the region.