Bills for NIA, terror law change get LS nod

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 19 2008, 05:14am hrs
The two Bills for setting up a National Investigation Agency and amending the law to deal with terrorism effectively were passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, with the government asserting that a balance of requirement of law and human rights had been ensured in these measures.

However, just a week after demonstrating political unanimity on combatting terror, the Opposition and ruling parties were back on familiar ground as they took potshots at each other in Parliament while debating two tough anti-terror Bills sought to be passed by the government.

Even as he pledged his partys support to the bills, leader of opposition LK Advani, who had spoken the language of consensus last week, put the Congress-led coalition on the mat this time saying they should accept the mistake for not bringing such legislations earlier. You have woken from the slumber of Kumbhakarna of the last 7-8 years. I want you to accept that you were wrong and it was a mistake, Advani in the Lok Sabha making a scathing attack on the UPA policy on tackling terror.

Advani told the Congress that it has done a U-turn on the issue in the wake of the outrage caused by the Mumbai terror strikes and reminded the treasury benches that the BJP-led NDA has been a votary of strong anti-terror laws. I find nothing wrong in the new legislations and we support it in principle, but there are certain lacunae which need to be addressed, he said. Batting for the Congress, senior minister Kapil Sibal took on Advani as he retorted that had they not released Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar during the Kandahar hijacking, the Mumbai terror attack might not have have taken place. Interestingly, Congress took the BJP line of argument when it said that strong anti-terror laws may not prevent terrorist attacks but would ensure speedy and effective trials.

The CPI opposed the legislationsNational Investigation Agency Bill and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Billbut its major Left Front partner CPI-M backed the measures, though urging the government to send the bills to the parliamentary standing committee. The debate was polemical from the beginning itself, with BJP leaders frequently interrupting Sibal, who kept repeating I wont yield to you, sir said, POTA was a tool for you to take your politics forward. He added that Congress did not want to throw into the dustbin basic human rights while bringing in the new law.

Advani, on his part, alleged that the main flaw in the governments handling of terror so far was that it treated terrorism as a law and order problem.