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India’s parliament erupts in chaos as pepper spray used

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India’s parliament erupted in chaos on Thursday over a bill to create a new state, as angry MPs came to blows and pulled out a microphone and one pepper-sprayed the chamber.

Holding banners and shouting slogans, lawmakers disrupted the lower house of parliament as the Congress-led government introduced the contentious bill to carve a new state out of the existing Andhra Pradesh.

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Legislators opposed to the new state of Telangana tried to rip out the speaker’s microphone while one unleashed a can of capsicum spray, prompting a rush for the exit, TV channels reported.

Several lawmakers climbed into ambulances suffering breathing problems before reportedly being taken to hospital.

Small fights also flared between MPs opposed to the bill and several trying to stop the chaos and restore order, as the parliament — known for its disruptions — was adjourned, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath slammed the unrest as a “big blot on our parliamentary democracy” and called for the strongest possible action against the offending MPs.

“It is the most shameful day in our parliamentary history,” Nath told reporters outside parliament.

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Seventeen MPs were suspended from the house over the behaviour, which also saw lawmakers rip up official papers and smash a glass. Others wore black blindfolds as a sign of protest, PTI said.

In the confusion one MP from Andhra Pradesh, who opposes Telangana, was accused of brandishing a knife in the chamber, a claim he denied.

“I pulled the microphone in front of my seat, not a knife. Why apologise? I will not apologise,” Venugopal Reddy shouted at an NDTV reporter.

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– Pepper spray used in ‘self defence’ –

L. Rajagopal was equally defiant over firing the pepper spray, saying he used the can in self-defence after other MPs “pounced” on him.

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“They started attacking me. So immediately as a self-defence, I used the pepper spray,” Rajagopal told reporters.

Cabinet last week approved the creation of Telangana from the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, after a decades-long and sometimes violent campaign.

Mainly tribal groups have demanded Telangana be carved out of a northern, impoverished and drought-prone part of Andhra Pradesh, which supporters say has long been neglected by successive state governments.

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But wealthier regions of Andhra Pradesh, home to IT giants including Google and Microsoft in its capital Hyderabad, have strongly opposed the split because they say it would create economic upheaval.

Security at parliament had been high before the bill’s introduction after one MP threatened to set himself on fire in protest.

Observers say the Congress government moved on Telangana in hopes of winning much-needed votes in the region at national elections in coming months. But they have warned the move may backfire amid an intensifying political battle in Andhra Pradesh.

Violent demonstrations have erupted there since Congress announced the move last July, while three federal ministers have resigned in protest.

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Outside parliament on Thursday, ugly clashes broke out between supporters of the Telangana state and police, an AFP photographer said.

Police dragged away protesters and bundled them into buses.

Congress has denied trying to seek any political advantage from splitting Andhra Pradesh, insisting it is trying to fulfil a longstanding pledge.


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Black Londoner explains George Floyd protester support with explanation of how cops murdered his brother

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In an interview with MSNBC's Molly Hunter, a Black Londoner explained why he turned out for a protest near Trafalgar Square in support of Americans who have hit the streets in the U.S. over the murder of George Floyd by four former Minneapolis police officers.

According to the man -- identified as Daniel and who was wearing a COVID-19 mask and a New York Yankees hat -- his brother was also murdered by police and the cops walked free.

"You've been marching all day," Hunter began. "Look, I have two questions for you: what was it like watching the U.S. this week from London? Does it resonate?

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Denver cops busted for doing drive-by shootings of anti-police brutality protesters

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In a video posted to Twitter, a young Denver man protesting the killing of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minnesota police officers, found himself on the receiving end of an attack by police himself as he filmed them riding on the side of a truck -- only to have his phone hit by a fired police projectile while still in his hand.

According to Rachelle D'nae, a staff writer at Slate, her brother went to the Denver protest and was filming the officers when the incident occurred.

"My older brother went to a protest in Denver last night. as the police were leaving, one of them shot him with a pepper pellet that smashed the back of his phone and exploded in his face. they were ~30 feet from each other and it looks like the officer aimed directly at his face," she wrote before adding in a second tweet, "when my brother told me he was going I prepared for the worst. I made sure he had my number memorized so I could bail him out if I needed to and I sat up until he made it home, trying not to cry as he told me he had been tear-gassed."

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2020 Election

US military brought in to monitor police brutality protests in 7 states: leaked documents

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According to an exclusive report from The Nation, based upon Defense Department documents, U.S. military members are being dispatched to seven different states to monitor the activities of Americans who have taken to the streets to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minneapolis cops.

The report, by the Nation's Ken Klippenstein, notes that states include, "Minnesota, where a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, the military is tracking uprisings in New York, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and Kentucky, according to a Defense Department situation report," with the author pointing out, "Notably, only Minnesota has requested National Guard support."

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