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Revive POTA: Advani

Source: PTI
July 25, 2006 15:56 IST
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Leader of the Opposition and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishenchand Advani on Tuesday demanded that the central government revive the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The United Progressive Alliance government had repealed the law enacted by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government in 2002.

Advani said the Centre had failed to combat terrorism, citing the Mumbai blasts and the escalating violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

Urging parties to abandon the pursuit of vote bank politics, Advani also sought a response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's reported claims that India has made an offer for settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

Even as the ruling coalition MPs interrupted him, he listed the Mumbai blasts among the 'defining moments' in India's engagement with terrorism over the last 25 years.

The events he mentioned included then prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984, 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 have been inadequate in dealing with the problem', Advani said the killings and injuries in the country's 'hinterland' during the last one year, other than Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast due to terrorism was an 'all-time record' in the last 25 years.

Accusing the Congress-led government of 'communalising the war on terrorism', Advani claimed that many police and intelligence officials had told him that they felt 'handicapped' in the absence of a tough anti-terror law.

While formulating POTA, the NDA government had taken all safeguards including the objections raised by the Supreme Court with regard to the now defunct TADA, he said.

Regretting that the prime minister did not take time to reject the demand for reviving POTA, Advani termed as 'ridiculous' the argument that terrorist incidents took place even when the anti-terror law was in force.

It was like stating that rapes, murders and other crimes were taking place even when the Indian Penal Code is in force, he said.

He added: "POTA is anti-terrorism but was projected as anti-Muslim and anti-minorities. Extraordinary special laws will enable the states to cut across jurisdictions and make sure that evils like terrorism are effectively dealt with."

Advani, who was interrupted by Shipping Minister T R Baalu and Minorities Minister A R Antulay, wondered why the Centre was sitting over the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Act passed by the state Assembly while it had no problems with a similar law in Maharashtra.

"Do not communalise the war on terrorism," he appealed and said if POTA was revived, it would not only have the backing of the entire nation but would also send a categorical message to terrorists.

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