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Centre rejects POTA-like law
To convene CMs’ meet on terror

New Delhi, November 26
Rejecting the BJP's demand for a POTA-like law in the wake of serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh, home minister Shivraj Patil today told Parliament that a meeting of chief ministers is being convened soon to tighten internal security and fight terrorism.

"The position of the ruling party is that a law like POTA is not required," he said responding to specific queries on whether a law like POTA was necessary to deal with terrorism.

Winding up discussions in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the UP blasts, Patil categorically asserted that even without POTA the government could tackle the problem of terrorism.

Meanwhile, absolving the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of any failure in the serial bombings in Uttar Pradesh last week, union home minister Shivraj Patil asked states to beef up intelligence gathering activities of their police forces.

Condemning the serial bomb blasts in Uttar Pradesh, Patil in the Lok Sabha and his deputy Sri Prakash Jaiswal in the Rajya Sabha, in a suo motu statement, said the government would not allow terrorists to disrupt peace and communal harmony in the country and that security and intelligence agencies would continue to make efforts to neutralise extremists and terrorist elements through preventive measures.

In the Lok Sabha, after Patil made a suo motu statement, speaker Somnath Chatterjee agreed to the demand of the opposition to allow an impromptu discussion on the issue with the home minister replying to it.

Referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s charge that the central intelligence agencies were to be blamed for the blasts, Patil said “RAW collects international intelligence and IB gives us national intelligence. But every state has a special branch (of police) that has to collect intelligence.”

“RAW and IB give information and directions with the larger perspective in mind. I cannot give details. But special branch has to work.”

“We give the IB a lot of funds and equipment. But that is not enough, we have to strengthen the state police forces and special branches,” he said adding “but the problem is police officers don’t want to go to the special branch because they don’t get any credit”.

Patil also emphasised on increasing the police-population ratio and called upon people to remain alert and cooperate with the police.

Responding to Leader of Opposition L.K.Advani’s demand for a federal investigating agency, Patil said “they (BJP) say what have you done. We can’t send our police. Nor can we conduct any investigations there. The Chief Ministers’ conference is coming up in 10-15 days and we will take up this issue. Experts’ reports say we have to think in terms of federal crime and federal investigation. But this is not acceptable to all the states”.

“So we have to think and devise some system. We have to discuss. But till we have a consensus nothing can be done because ours is a federal system and nothing should be done to harm that,” Patil said.

Giving details about the blasts, Patil said battery-operated timer devices triggered the serial blasts. Explosives with these timers were contained in bags kept on bicycles parked close to areas where lawyers and litigants sit on premises of court.

In the Rajya Sabha, main opposition BJP said it would support the UPA government in fighting terrorism if it comes up with tough measures like the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) to tackle the fast-spreading menace.

Blaming the UPA government for not showing as much seriousness as it should have to tackle the terror threat, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said the Centre should make a firm policy, taking the views of all political parties and experts into consideration.

“If you make a firm policy on national security, we will support you,” he said. — PTI & TNS

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