Serious about combating terror, says Congress

December 18th, 2008 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) The ruling Congress Thursday launched a spirited defence of its anti-terrorism legislations, while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), extending its support to the bills to create a National Investigation Agency (NIA) and strengthen the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, termed these as “half measures”.The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) suggested crucial modifications to the amendments proposed to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that provides for detention of up to 180 days without charges being filed.

“We have to show that this house means business and send out a strong signal that we are serious about combating terror,” Congress member Abhishek Manu Sighvi said while participating in the Rajya Sabha debate on the two bills.

Noting that it was “important to focus on the remedy for the disease”, he said the two bills must be “seen as part of the larger holistic framework for the war against terror. This holistic approach will help us fight the war against terror.

“The two bills are part of a seamless network against terror,” Singhvi maintained, adding that the bills lay special emphasis on human rights. He said: “Please don’t conjure up a fear psychosis.”

Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M suggested two modifications of amendments proposed to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying that increasing detention to 180 days without filing charges was “unfair”.

“In the US, even after 9/11, a person can’t be jailed for more than two days without charges being filed,” Yechury pointed out.

He also said it should be mandatory for the NIA, and not left to the discretion of the agency, to associate the state in which it was conducting a probe.

Holding that “checks have to be imposed” to prevent the misuse of the proposed laws, Arun Jaitley of the BJP said the measures were “only a half step of a reluctant government. But, as a nationalist party, we will campaign for the other half but yet support the half measure you have taken.”

“The only difference is that while we support this measure as a national necessity, the government and its allies appear to be more apologetic in bringing this measure,” Jaitley added.

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