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

It was around 1 p.m., and the zero hour was on. The Lok Sabha Member from Meerut (UP), Rajendra Agrawal, was the presiding officer in the House while MPs were raising different matters. The attendance was rather thin in the press gallery with just eight or 10 journalists at most. 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.

But the meandering proceedings were rudely disrupted as a young man (later identified as Sagar Sharma) jumped from the visitors’ gallery. He was followed by another, later identified as Manoranjan. First, I thought he had accidentally fallen, but I was wrong. He stood up and sprinted into the House, heading to the last row. He was also trying to take off his shoe.

Parliament security breach: Speaker Birla calls meeting of MPs; four arrested

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 from his shoe, which started releasing yellow smoke. The other young man stood near the entry gate and used another canister to create a smokescreen.

Even as the smoke swirled, 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 and adjourned the House. Both intruders were nabbed and handed over to security officials. All the visitors were asked to vacate the gallery immediately.

For me, it was a surreal experience to be present in Parliament on both occasions when it was breached.