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Tough times need tougher terror laws, says IB chief

Tough times need tougher terror laws, says IB chief

Author: Times News Network
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: November 24, 2006
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/548630.cms

Making an unusual departure from the government's 'existing laws are enough to deal with terrorism' stance, Intelligence Bureau director ESL Narasimhan on Thursday publicly pleaded with the prime minister for a "more robust legal framework to deal with the new kinds of terror attacks."

Mr Narasimhan, in his welcome speech ahead of prime minister Manmohan Singh's address to the DGPs/IGPs conclave here, justified his call for a stronger anti-terror legal framework to deal, saying that it would be in keeping with the new kind sudden terror attacks.

Mr Narasimhan's 'tough times need tough laws' plea - made even as the prime minister and Union home minister looked on - echoes the sentiments of the Opposition camp: NDA has been pressing for stringent laws to deal with terror, in line with the trend around the world. The UPA government had, soon after it came to power in 2004, scrapped Pota stating it was 'biased' and replaced it with an amended version of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The IB director seeking a more robust anti-terror legal framework in the presence of the prime minister and home minister is significant as the government has never missed an opportunity to turn down suggestions for a tougher anti-terror law by stating that existing laws were enough and all that was needed was stricter implementation.

This stand of the top official of the IB has put the government in an uncomfortable situation as the components of the ruling alliance and community leadership are considered apoplectic over even references to tough laws. The security agencies have been complaining that the very same sections roast the police for intelligence gathering laxity if something catastrophic happens.

Mr Narasimhan in his address also sought adequate legal protection for security personnel engaged in countering terror. Taking up the case of officers who are dogged by criticism from human rights lobbies even as they perform their duty in the country's conflict zones, Mr Narasimhan said such campaigns were resulting in the officers feeling not only persecuted but also confused regarding their role.

"The national counter-terror strategy suffers immensely when officers and men who put at stake everything in protecting society find themselves helpless facing legal and extra-legal campaigns in the subsequent period when the threats have receded."

"How do you deal with cases when fidayeen attacks are foiled by police? Questions are still raised," he pointed out and stressed the need to find answers to such issues.

Favouring the need to create awareness regarding cross border terrorism and its complex intertwined support, he said adequate legal protection to the officers and men involved to counter terrorism would be essential "if we have to face these challenges."

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