Rajat Sharma

Only Congress can tell why it is opposing amendments to UAPA

akbThe Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill which provides for classifying individuals having terror links as terrorists. The amendment bill also allows the National Investigation Agency to attach properties linked to terror outfits, without taking permission from the state police chief.

While replying to the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah hit out at those whom he called ‘urban Naxals’ who provide direct and indirect support to Maoists and other terrorists. Congress and Trinamool Congress members walked out, and the bill was passed by majority vote after division.

I am surprised why the Congress walked out while opposing this bill. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Bill was enacted in 1967 during former PM Indira Gandhi’s rule. The law was amended in 2004, when the Congress-led UPA was in power. It was again amended in 2008 and 2013 during Congress-led UPA rule.

The new amendments that were passed on Wednesday were based on recommendations made by the then Home Minister P. Chidambaram in 2013. Only the Congress leaders can tell why their party is opposing these amendments now.

The present law gives power to the state police DGP to give permission to attach properties of terrorists and their sympathizers. The amendment now empowers the NIA director-general to give permission to attach the properties of terrorists. Till now, the power of investigating terrorist acts was vested in the DSP or ACP of a state police. The new amendment gives this power to the rank of Inspector or above working in NIA.

These are vital amendments that can give power to the NIA to combat terrorism and Maoism. It will speed up investigation that has the potential to nip terrorism in the bud. And yet there are naysayers like AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi who say that the new amended law can be used to harass minorities. He should first worry about his own brother Akbaruddin Owaisi, who has been publicly spewing venom against the majority community.

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