Patil favours federal agency, praises Gujarat government (Lead)

July 27th, 2008 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Shivraj Patil

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Home Minister Shivraj Patil will make a forceful pitch for a separate authority to deal with crimes threatening the country’s security in a conclave of chief ministers to be held shortly. Highly placed sources said Sunday that such a move was necessary in the light of the terror attacks that have rocked major cities in the country.

“Patil will work to arrive at a consensus among the chief ministers when the meeting takes place,” said a senior home ministry functionary.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too has voiced a similar request in the backdrop of well-coordinated terrorist attacks across India in the last two years. Both Manmohan Singh and Patil are expected to visit Ahmedabad Monday to assess the situation in the aftermath of Saturday’s serial blasts in the city. The prime minister will also meet the injured in the city hospitals.

“Such a body is important to face the challenges faced by both the security and intelligence establishments in coping with new-age terror, especially attacks with an element of surprise,” said the ministry official.

After a meeting with Manmohan Singh to take stock of the back-to-back bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, Patil said it was important that there was no backlash and that peace and tranquility prevailed.

“The central government is very sorry for what has happened yesterday. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have suffered,” he told reporters after the meeting the prime minister.

“The most important thing today is to see that peace and tranquillity in Gujarat is not disturbed, peace and tranquillity in any part of the country is not disturbed. The state government is taking steps to see that no mischief is perpetrated and nothing is done to (derail) peace.

“In the past when incidents of this nature have happened, people have behaved wisely and … I have no doubts this will happen in this case also.”

At least 45 people were killed in 20 synchronised bombings that ripped through Gujarat’s main city of Ahmedabad.

“We will hold talks to draft the definition of federal crime. Though the law and order falls under the purview of state government, an amendment is required in the constitution for the creation of such agency,” the official added.

The central government has for long been mooting the idea of creating a federal agency on lines of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but has failed to move further as state governments are reluctant to relinquish their powers on law and order, which is a state subject.

According to the sources, a high-level meeting attended by the home secretary, the cabinet secretary, officials from the intelligence bureau and other senior bureaucrats was convened at Patil’s house to take note of the situation.

Later Patil briefed prime minister about the inputs received from the state governments.

“We had a long meeting and the present situation was assessed. Some immediate plans related to security were discussed and the officials were directed to work on plan to tackle this kind of situation in the future,” the official said.

“The main focus was to ensure no communal violence breaks out in Gujarat. Additional forces are being rushed to the blasts site,” the official added.

The meeting was focused on failure of intelligence gathering on parts of the state governments. “The state police forces have to gear up on this regard.”

The Ahmedabad bombings Saturday came a day after serial blasts rocked Bangalore, India’s IT hub, killing one person. At least 40 people were killed in Ahmedabad.

In the last three years, nearly 550 people have been killed in 11 well-coordinated terrorist attacks across India since the 2005 Diwali-eve bombings in the national capital, but no case has been resolved and not one terrorist arrested.

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