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UPA woke up too late: Advani on anti-terror laws

December 17, 2008 17:18 IST

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Seeking to appropriate the credit for the new anti-terror laws, The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said the Congress-led coalition should accept its mistake of not bringing such legislations earlier and alleged that the delay has harmed the country.

"You have woken from the slumber of Kumbhakarna of the last 7-8 years. I want you to accept that you were wrong and it was a mistake," Leader of Opposition L K Advani [Images] said in the Lok Sabha making a scathing attack on the government's policy so far on tackling terror.

Advani told the Congress that it has done a U-turn on the issue in the wake of the outrage caused by the Mumbai terror strikes and reminded the treasury benches that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has been a votary of strong anti-terror laws.

"I find nothing wrong in the new legislations and we support it in principle, but there are certain lacunae which need to be addressed," he said.

Noting that he was satisfied with the measures, but was "not happy" as the steps have come after much delay, he told the government that the media was dubbing the development as "old wine in new bottle and UPA returns to POTA".

He alleged that the main flaw in the government's handling of terror so far was that it treated terrorism as a law and order problem.

The situation the country was finding itself in today was not different from that of war, Advani said and asserted that it should be faced with unity and above all, a will to win.

"If the two laws indeed mean that you have turned a new leaf and you have taken a new turn, I will be very happy," he said regretting that anti-terror law was earlier being treated as an "anti-minority" law.

The former home minister also wanted the bills to have provisions that memberships of banned organisations like SIMI [Images] should be construed as a terrorist act. "And we have a strange situation that members of the Cabinet keep on defending SIMI," he said.

Turning to the issue of delay in the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Advani said such delay sends a wrong message the world that India is a soft country.

Describing Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism, he took exception to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] remark sometime back that Pakistan was itself a "victim of terrorism".

He also disapproved of the joint mechanism between India and Pakistan to fight terror.

The leader of opposition said that in the last Lok Sabha elections, Congress and its allies had made POTA an issue and promised to scrap it if elected.

Pointing out that TADA was brought when P Chidambaram was Minister of State for Home, Advani said the BJP never made any demand of scrapping TADA but just warned against its misuse.

Making comparisons with the United States, Advani said after the September 11 strikes, the US had brought in a spate of legislations which have helped stop further attacks there.

"Even the United Nations had specially recommended that countries enact special laws to tackle terror," he said.

On the misuse of POTA, he shot back, "Which law of the land is not misused? We should guard against the misuse of a law instead of scraping it altogether."

Holding that the Mumbai attacks have perpetrated anger against the whole political community, he said, "A strict legal framework is needed to tackle terror."

After the Mumbai incident, the government has changed its tune somewhat, he said adding the terrorists had selected the places of attack carefully where they would find foreigners.

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