M A I N   N E W S

Govt’s no to POTA
Motion on Mumbai blasts defeated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
With the government rejecting the Opposition demand for revival of POTA to deal with terrorism, the adjournment motion on Mumbai blasts was defeated by a voice vote in the Lok Sabha as the BJP-led NDA staged a walkout.

Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani, staging a walkout, said the Opposition was not convinced with the response of the government to tackle the growing menace of terrorism, which was spreading its wings in all parts of the country.

“The government was not in favour of bringing back POTA as the anti-terror law repealed by the UPA government was more misused than used,” Home Minister Shivraj Patil, earlier replying to the more than four-hour debate on the motion, said.

“We will not indulge in human rights violations and we don’t want to create an imbalance in our criminal justice system,” he said, adding that certain provisions of POTA had been misused.

“Those who indulge in terrorism do not care about religion,” he said, adding that an entire community could not be blamed if some people from that community were found involved in a terrorist attack.

The Home Minister was interrupted by Opposition members several times during his speech, in which he said the government was in possession of “some information” that does not contradict Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that terror modules in Mumbai receive help from Pakistan.

He, however, refused to disclose the information in the interests of the ongoing investigation into the Mumbai blasts.

Mr Patil said the government was for reviving the micro-level intelligence gathering in states done by the Special Branch, “which has become weak”.

The government was for increasing security in urban centres, especially the metro cities, he said, adding that state police forces would be given funds for modernisation of communication, intelligence-gathering gadgets and vehicles.

Earlier, initiating the discussion on the adjournment motion on the Mumbai bomb blasts in the Lok Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr L.K. Advani charged the Congress-led UPA government with “communalisng terrorism and playing vote-bank politics”.

He made a fervent appeal to all political parties to shed the “mindset” that the war on terrorism was against minorities. “The people of this country are united, but only political parties differ due to vote-bank politics,” he said.

Making a strong case for revival of POTA, which was repealed by the UPA government, he said, “A legislation like POTA will create terror in the minds of terrorists.”

Mr Advani sought a response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s reported claim of India having made an offer for settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

Amid interruptions from Treasury Benches, he listed the Mumbai blasts among the “defining moments” in India’s engagement with terrorism over the past 25 years, beginning with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 and including Rajiv Gandhi’s killing in 1991, the Mumbai serial blasts in 1993 and the attack on Parliament in 2001.

Recalling the Prime Minister’s recent address to state Chief Secretaries where he stated that “responses in the past are inadequate in dealing with the problem”, Mr Advani said the killings and injuries in the country’s “hinterland” during the past one year, other than Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East, due to terrorism was an “all-time record” in the past 25 years.

He sought to know from the Prime Minister what further steps other than deferring the Foreign Secretary-level talks he proposed to persuade Pakistan to abide by its January 2000 joint statement not to allow its soil for anti-India activities.




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