Tuesday, November 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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POTO: PM to call all-party meeting
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26
With sharp differences persisting between the government and the Opposition on the various provisions of the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has decided to convene an all-party meeting to evolve a consensus.

Home Minister L. K. Advani, who addressed a meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his ministry today, told the members that “the Prime Minister has already agreed to convene a meeting with opposition parties before the Bill is introduced in Parliament.”

Mr Advani said the government had heard views of the Opposition and a final decision on POTO would be taken after the Prime Minister consulted all parties.

He, however, did not state as to when Mr Vajpayee would hold the party meeting.

During the one-hour-long meeting, Congress leaders Shivraj Patil and Ghulam Nabi Azad opposed POTO in its present form, BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana, who attended it, told newspersons.

Mr Khurana said the Congress, however, maintained that there was a need for a law to combat terrorism. He also indicate that the government was open to amending certain provisions of POTO, including those affecting the freedom of the press.

CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee said, “Lines are drawn” and his party will continue to express its reservation against POTO.

Muslim League member G. M. Banatwala along with Samajwadi Party members strongly opposed the ordinance.

The Consultative Committee meeting, convened on Friday to discuss the issue, was inconclusive.

HVP member Swaraj Kaushal pointed out that the definition of ‘terrorist’ in the proposed anti-terrorism Act was “too wide” and wanted the government to narrow it down to cover only those who actually indulged in terrorist activities. He also wanted the government to cut down the wider connotations of certain clauses which led to apprehensions among various sections of the society, including the press.

Mr S. Viduthalai Virumbi of the DMK and Anadi Charan Sahu of the BJP also spoke at the meeting. Mr Sahu was the only member today, who spoke in favour of the Act in its present form and tried to buttress his argument saying enough safeguards had been made in POTO to prevent its misuse.

The Law Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley and the Ministers of State for Home, Mr I.D. Swami and Mr Vidyasagar Rao attended the meeting.
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10 Al-Badr men arrested under POTO
Tribune News Service


Relatives of Ghulam Mohammad Dar, whose house was sealed under the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance, protesting against police action in Safakadal area of Srinagar on Monday. —Photo Amin War.

Srinagar, November 26
After laying a siege on a residential house allegedly used as a hideout by militants and the arrest of 10 top suspects of the Al-Badr outfit, the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) has been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir.

Confirming this here today, the IGP, Mr K. Rajendra said three cases of POTO had been registered at police stations of Khanyar, Safakadal and Shaheed Gunj in Srinagar city. Ten persons held under POTO included Ghulam Mohammed Dar of Malik Saheb Safakadal, whose house was allegedly being used by the Al-Badr militants as a hideout for more than two years. Others arrested included publicity chief and financial chief of the Al-Badr, which according to the police, had been reactivated during the recent months.

Denying the claims of family members of Ghulam Mohammad Dar, whose house was sealed yesterday, the IGP told TNS that the police had made all necessary investigations and there was evidence. A pistol, a wireless set and some ammunition had been recovered from the house. All those arrested under POTO were local militants. The IGP said the Al-Badr outfit, a breakaway group of the Hizbul Mujahideen, had 99 per cent foreign militants.

The police and security forces last week achieved a major success with the killing of three top militants of the Al-Badr. They included its chief, Hafiz, alias Dr Nayeem, of Peshawar, Syed Talha Ahmed, alias Amir, of Karachi, and Suhail.

The police claimed that a number of hideouts of the Al-Badr had been identified, smashed and activists arrested during the recent weeks. Those arrested included Manzoor Ahmad Mir, Zameer Ahmed Sheikh, Tariq Majid Choudhary, Yaser Ahmed Wagay and Mohammad Abbas Bhat.Back

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