Sunday, November 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Punjab opposes

New Delhi, November 17
Speaking today at the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security being held at Vigyan Bhavan here, the Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, strongly opposed POTO and the move to set up a federal agency on the pattern of the FBI even as he favoured suitable legislative protection to policemen fighting terrorism.

“The attempt to enact POTO and also the proposal to create a new Special Force on the pattern of the FBI of the USA will be a direct infringement of the state’s rights,” he said adding that “an attempt should be made to strengthen the state police forces and we should not create unnecessary law or central force which can come into direct conflict with the state police duties.”

Himachal Pradesh Chief Prem Kumar Dhumal said “none of the provisions of the Bill should be diluted in the name of media and the human rights.”

If a journalist has prior information about any plan of terrorists to strike at a particular place, he or she is duty bound under law to pass on the information to the police. This provision is applicable to all citizens, including the President of India, even under the normal criminal law,” the Chief Minister said.

Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala supported POTO but insisted that there should not be any misgiving about it and its shortcomings, if any, should be removed in time.

He urged the Central Government that the law should be enforced strictly to deal with terrorism to root out terrorism from the country.

However, Mr Chautala strongly opposed the setting an independent investigating agency on the pattern of FBI to investigate cases pertaining to certain selected terrorist cases.

“The Central Government should not doubt the functioning of the State Governments on the issues concerning national security. The Constitutional powers of the States could not be compromised in the name of internal and national security,” Mr Chautala said. 

In fact, he said, there was a need for better coordination and finding new ways and means to sort out the issues of internal and nationals security. He also stressed the need for improving the system of collecting intelligence information by Central and State agencies besides sending the same to the quarters concerned in time.

“Central security agencies should take into confidence the agencies of the State while launching operations of internal security,” he said. Mr Chautala said the security of prominent establishments should be manned by the Army and the security of public sector undertakings should be handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force.Back



Maharashtra, Assam reject

New Delhi, November 17
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today bluntly told the Centre that “The ordinance had far reaching implications and in its present form, we are not in a position to support it.”

He said in August last year, there was a consensus about the need to have a Central legislation for effectively tackling terrorism. The Centre had then firmly committed itself to bring the legislation after wide-ranging consultations with states and political parties.

“If an exercise for arriving at a consensus with all political parties is undertaken even at this late stage, we could consider supporting it as we are fully committed to a national effort aimed at rooting out terrorism,” Mr Deshmukh said.

Expressing serious concern over the increasing activities of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP in Maharashtra, he said that they seemed to be on a spree to open up a large number of branches.

“Besides distributing trishuls and imparting firearms training to their supporters, they have started taking up every small local issue, given it a communal twist, to keep the communal atmosphere charged.”

“In our opinion, the provisions of POTO are too harsh. Eventual misuse of its provisions, the possibility of which cannot be ruled out, may pose serious threats to the basic tenets of our civil society and fundamental rights of our citizens”, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.

“If at all a new piece of legislation has to be enacted, it has to go through a process of wider consultation with the states”, Mr Gogoi, who is a Congress Chief Minister, said.

Where as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu today sounded a word of caution saying “adequate safeguards should be taken up to eliminate the scope for abuse of extraordinary powers vested in law enforcement agencies.”

Inviting the Centre’s attention particularly to the provision of Section 3 (8) and Section 14 of the ordinance, he urged their suitable modification to “protect the freedom of the press which is the hallmark of parliamentary democracy.”

He also suggested that the validity of the “sunset legislation” be reduced from five to three years.

The Chief Minister expressed “disappointment” over the non-inclusion of People’s War Group indulging in terrorist activity in Andhra Pradesh and other states, in the 23 organisations proscribed by the Centre under the Ordinance.

He also opposed the concept of a federal investigation agency, mooted at the last conference.

While Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjuna Kharge said Karnataka stood fully with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for countering any subversive activities affecting internal security.

“He will not find the state wanting in reacting to suggestions to meet such problems,” Mr Kharge said. The state, however, opposed the proposal to set up a federal investigating agency on the ground that it was adequately equipped for undertaking investigations.

Karnataka’s stand is not totally in consonance with the Congress rigid stance against the ordinance.

Kerala Chief Minister A.K. Antony opposed POTO saying it was anti-democratic, suffered from serious legal infirmities and was liable to abuse.

He said, “In view of the strong reservations expressed by the National Human Rights Commission as well as Chief Ministers, it would have been prudent for the central government to have discussed the matter with the state governments before issuing the ordinance”, he said.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh said “We believe that combating terrorism is the need of the hour. However, a larger consultative process involving all political parties was necessary to put in place an appropriate legislation,” the CM said.

Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi said that the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) was likely to be misused and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

The ordinance could infringe upon personal liberty of the people as no safeguards have been made against violations of human rights and personal liberty, she said in her speech, which was read out by State Minister for Rural Development Upendra Prasad Verma in her absence in the Chief Ministers’ Conference on National Security here today.

Mrs Rabri Devi demanded a national debate on the issue before bringing forward a Bill in Parliament to replace the ordinance. The law and order was a state subject and the states should also be taken into confidence, she added. UNI, PTI

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