Government to strengthen anti-terror law: PM

September 17th, 2008 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) The government is “actively considering” legislation to strengthen its anti-terror mechanism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here Wednesday, even as he deplored the politicalisation of the issue.”We are actively considering legislation to further strengthen the substantive anti-terrorism law in line with the global consensus on the fight against terrorism,” he said while addressing the Governors’ Conference here.

“Unfortunately,” he said, the public debate on the issue of terrorism had “tended to get driven by politics, and has centred on certain laws enacted or repealed by governments of different political persuasions”.

Noting that the government had no “fixed, inflexible or ideological view” on this, the prime minister said: “We have, in fact, taken the initiative to strengthen various laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Singling out the “issues in contention”, Manmohan Singh said these basically related to the procedural aspects of investigation and prosecution of terrorism related offences.

“Even this aspect is under consideration with the aim of identifying provisions which could be made to further strengthen the hands of the law enforcement agencies, and also, simultaneously, address the apprehensions which led, first to the repeal of TADA (Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act), and later of POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), and about which there are cross party views which cannot be ignored,” the prime minister maintained.

Referring to the serial blasts in four Indian cities - including the capital on Saturday - Manmohan Singh said a “number of practical suggestions” were on the table for tightening the machinery to deal with terrorism.

“One suggestion is to set up a central agency to investigate and prosecute all terrorist incidents.

“This need not necessarily be a Federal Investigative Agency, but could be a central agency which can assist the states in investigation whenever a major terrorist event takes place,” the prime minister said.

As this central agency would have investigated other similar terrorist crimes in the country, “they would have a great deal more of expertise in regard to the investigation and prosecution of such terrorist offences”, Manmohan Singh noted.

He, however, was not in favour of establishing a central agency to co-ordinate counter-terrorism strategy.

“There are already a number of central agencies who are involved in determining counter-terrorism strategy, based on extant situations. Perhaps, there is no need to set up a new agency, and instead we ought to ensure better coordination and integration among the existing agencies for devising an effective counter-terrorism strategy,” the prime minister contended.

In this context, he said that what was “most important of all” was closer cooperation between the central government and the states and among the states themselves.

“This is particularly important today when as we have seen, there is a common strand running through each of the major terrorist incidents,” Manmohan Singh said.

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