NEW DELHI The Lok Sabha on Wednesday approved a bill to amend UAPA aimed at allowing the government to designate an individual as a militant with Home Minister Amit Shah asserting this is of “prime importance” to nip militancy in the bud.
Stoutly defending the amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act(UAPA) to make it “strict”, Shah also allayed fears of the opposition parties on its misuse, saying it will keep the investigation agencies “four steps” ahead of the terrorists.
Replying to a debate on the bill before it was passed by voice vote, Shah said though it will not be misused against any individual, yet, those who engage in terrorist activities against the security and sovereignty of the country, including the ‘urban maoists’, would not be spared by the investigating agencies either.
Reiterating the zero tolerance policy of the Modi government against terrorism, Shah said the objective of the proposed amendments is to facilitate speedy investigation and prosecution of terror offences and designating an individual as terrorist in line with the international practices.
An individual’s psychology is the birth place of terrorism, rather than an institution. If, in the first place, an individual is stopped from attracting other individuals into terrorism by providing ideological and financial support, this menace can be finished,”he said.
Hence, designating an individual as terrorist, after following the due process of law, is of “prime importance” to nip terrorism in the bud.
The anti-terror law, so far, only had provisions to ban groups as individual groups, not individuals.
The Bill additionally empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases. Under the Act, the investigation may be conducted by officers only of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
TMC MP Mahua Moitra made a fiery appeal in the lower house against the amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on Wednesday. Warning that political targeting could be effected with the passage of the bill, Moitra said the amendments lacked clarity regarding the procedures to be followed while designating a person as a terrorist.
“This bill seeks to do two thingsone to designate individuals as terrorists without due process. Two, it enables NIA to go into any state and arrest, sieze and search properties, without the knowledge of the state DGP. This is completely against the federal structure of our country because you are giving the NIA policing power. Even the CBI work with the state police,” Moitra contended. “This bill is anti-federalism, anti-constitutional and anti-people.”
“If they (the NDA government) want to get someone, they will get them somehow; on some law or lacunae or the other,” she said.
“Opposition leaders, rights activists, minorities, anyone who doesn’t seem to agree with the homogenous idea of India that the government thrusts upon us, is at risk,” she said during the debate on UAPA Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha.