Lok Sabha passes Bill to give more teeth to NIA; Opposition cries foul

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 15, 2019 Published on July 15, 2019

Goal is to root out terror; won’t look at religion of the accused, assures Amit Shah

After a heated debate between Home Minister Amit Shah and several Opposition MPs, the Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to strengthen the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in probing cyber crimes and human trafficking cases.

The Opposition accused the government of using central investigating agencies to target political opponents and minorities.

Shah, on his part, said the government’s only objective is to combat terrorism ‘regardless of religion’. He targeted the Congress for repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) for ‘vote-bank purposes’.

During the debate, Congress’ Manish Tiwari and Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) questioned the Constitutional validity of the amendments with the latter accusing the Government of using the law selectively.

“I would like to ask the government about the professionalism in the investigations carried out by the NIA. In the Samjhauta blast investigation, they could not even produce the CCTV footage of the railway station in the court. And why is the government not appealing in Malegaon blasts, Samjhauta blasts and Mecca Masjid blast cases?” asked Owaisi.

Defending the bill, the government refuted the opposition’s claim that the NIA law was being “misused” to target members of a community and asserted that its only goal is to combat terrorism.

Amit Shah said the Parliament should speak in one voice in giving powers to the NIA; to send out a message to terrorists and the world.

To the accusations of using tough laws and central investigating agencies to target a particular community, Shah said, “Let me make it clear that the Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to eradicate terrorism but we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking an action.”

Replying to the discussion, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said “This is a government run by chowkidar and will be at the forefront for the security of the country,” he said adding that terrorism has no religion or caste or region.

He said there are no issues of federal system with the NIA and it works in close coordination with States and their agencies. He added that NIA often writes to chief secretary and DGP of the State before initiating an investigation.

Back to surgical strikes

He said that surgical and air strikes have shown that there are other means available with the government to deal with terrorism cases when it comes to Pakistan. “Things were not properly worked out during your (Congress) government. We are the ones fixing it.”

He said NIA is investigating as many as 272 cases and has filed chargesheet in 199. The minister said that out of 272, the courts have already delivered their judgements in 51 cases, with convictions in 46 cases. “There is a 90 per cent conviction rate”.

Later, Asaduddin Owaisi sought a division when the bill came up for passage. Home Minister Amit Shah said the division should be taken up to show “who all are for or against terrorism”. While 278 members supported its consideration, only six opposed it. The bill was later passed by a voice vote.

Published on July 15, 2019

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