Just want to finish off terror, says Amit Shah as Lok Sabha gives NIA more teeth

A law that gives India’s federal anti-terror agency National Investigation Agency, or NIA more powers to probe terror cases in India and abroad has been cleared by the Lok Sabha by an overwhelming majority. Only half-a-dozen Lok Sabha members opposed the bill during the head count. A total of 278 members voted in its favour.
Besides letting the NIA investigate terror offences abroad, the bill that was cleared by the Lok Sabha also empowers the agency to investigate cases involving illegal arms, human trafficking, cyber terror and counterfeit currency.
The expansion of this list of offences is crucial because this means that the NIA can cherry pick any of these cases in any state. Unlike the CBI, the NIA is not dependent on the state government’s approval before probing these offences.
The NIA Act was set up by the previous UPA government in 2009 to probe terrorist activities after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.
The law was hurriedly passed by Parliament and had led to criticism from the BJP that the provision giving the NIA the right to investigate the listed offences violates the constitutional separation of powers between the states and Centre. That position started to change after the BJP came to power in 2014.
By 2016, Home Minister Rajnath Singh okayed the first draft of the changes that the government felt were needed. But the government had been unsure about political support to the tweaks. The government’s hard push to the bill in recent months is seen as a reflection of the government’s confidence of the opposition’s diminishing leverage on a bill that strengthens the anti-terror architecture.
Before the vote on Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah strongly rebutted apprehensions about misuse of the anti-terror probe agency to target minorities and stressed that the Centre will never misuse it on the basis of religion but would ensure that terrorism is finished off.
Also Read | ‘Learn to listen, Owaisi Sahab’: Amit Shah’s advice for Hyderabad MP
Amit Shah, who was responding to concerns expressed by AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi, said the government acts tough against any form of terrorism without looking at one’s religion and referred to the “tough action” in cases relating to the LTTE. He also asked Lok Sabha members to exercise caution, pointing that if the messaging is that the House wasn’t united on acting against terror, “it can boost the morale of terrorists”.
Shah also tore into the previous Congress-led UPA government that had piloted repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, or POTA.
Shah, who appeared to link a spike in terror incidents in the country between 2004 and 2008 to the repeal of POTA, said the UPA didn’t push for POTA’s repeal over concerns over its alleged misuse but to “save its vote bank”, according to news agency ANI
“Let me make it clear. The Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to finish off terrorism but we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking action,” Shah said.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/just-want-to-finish-off-terror-says-amit-shah-as-ls-gives-nia-more-teeth/story-lDEEARBUtN4B8khLgPr6rN.html


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