Jaya Against POTA Repeal

Chennai, Aug 24 | Updated: Aug 25 2004, 05:30am hrs
The reported decision of the Union government to repeal the prevention of terrorism Act (POTA) 2002 would directly undermine the state governments' ability to counter terrorism, according to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

According to her, the move ``is a retrograde step that is bound to have disastrous consequences for the internal security situation in the country.''

``There is no doubt that the repeal of POTA 2002 will leave the state governments hapless to deal with dangerous and explosive situations arising due to the menace of terrorism,'' the Chief Minister said in a press release here on Tuesday.

Ms Jayalalithaa has written to the chief ministers of various states that, ``as long as law and order is a state subject, the unilateral decision of the Government of India to repeal POTA without consultation with the state government and without a national debate, has to be opposed by all state governments''.

She said, the paradigm of national security has undergone a conceptual change in the context of global terrorism. India has consistently endorsed the need to take firm action to combat terrorism and our stand on cross border terrorism in the context of bilateral relations with Pakistan is also well known.

``While this is so, the government of India has taken the perplexing and utterly contradictory decision to repeal POTA. This is bound to send all the wrong signals to the international community, that the compulsions of internal electoral politics in a coalition government have made India a `soft-state' and a soft target for terrorists.''

The repeal of POTA, Ms Jayalalithaa said, ``will denude the state governments of the powers to combat terrorism. The law enforcement agencies will not have any special law at their disposal to effectively tackle terrorist and extremist outfits. They will again have to rely upon the provisions of archaic laws which have repeatedly proved inadequate, even to handle extreme and heinous crimes, and by no stretch of imagination can these laws be considered adequate to handle the terrorist menance.''

``All states, particularly those which are already faced with threats from terrorist groups and extremist outfits, will be left without any viable mechanism to counter the threat and danger from terrorist outfits and subversive elements''.