At long last, the Prime Minister has woken up to the need for a central agency to effectively handle serious crimes like terrorism and drug smuggling. Since these crimes have inter-state, nay international, ramifications, no single state is equipped to effectively prevent and investigate these crimes. He knows that it is not his original idea. Vajpayee Government had initiated the move but couldn'tconvert it into a reality. UPA Government temporarily revived the proposal in the wake of February 2004 audacious Maoist attack on Koraput police station. The Congress party'slukewarm response to Dr Manmohan Singh'sstatement lends credence to the charge that it was merely an off the cuff remark to divert attention from the all round condemnation of the Central Government'sfailure on the terror front. There is hardly any sense of purpose and determination, on Congress-led Government? part to set up an effective machinery to streamline the mechanism for investigating terror-related crimes. No one has forgotten that the states ruled by the Congress and the Communists were in the forefront of elements that opposed the setting up of a federal agency. Dr. Singh'sdiffidence on the issue is borne out by the tone and tenor of his speech in which he hastened to add in the same breath that states were unwilling to surrender their powers to the Centre. Instead of chiding state governments that are more concerned about their turf than national interests, the Prime Minister said his statement shouldn'tbe taken as a criticism of the states. So, the states that oppose the eminently suitable mechanism for fighting terror shouldn'teven be criticised.
BJP-led NDA Government had set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to examine insurgency and terrorism. Among other things, the GoM came up with the suggestion to set up a central agency to deal with terror-related crimes. Worried over the ever expanding reach of terrorists, several BJP-ruled states have persistently demanded inter-state coordination to fight the menace. PM is yet to respond to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi'sletter requesting a meeting of Chief Ministers to fine tune a strategy to wage a well-coordinated war against terror. Setting up a federal agency will not be enough because the proposed agency would be severely handicapped in the absence of an effective law to deal terror. Further, it would be severely handicapped if confessions made by suspected terrorists were inadmissible as evidence and bails are routinely granted to suspects booked for terror. Congress-led Government had sent a terribly wrong message to terrorists by annulling POTA immediately after coming to power. The argument that POTA had to be annulled because it was misused by certain states is untenable. Is there any law anywhere in the world that had never been misused by the authorities concerned? The solution is not to annul the law but to make provision to prevent its misuse for ulterior purposes. No less a person than Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, has in a public speech called for an appropriate legal framework in the criminal justice system to tackle the menace of terrorism even while cautioning that adequate precautions should be taken to prevent its misuse. Proponent of terror, CJI observed, armed with modern technology and assisted by a multitude of sleeping cells had spread their influence even to areas hereto inaccessible to them. BJP-ruled states?Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan?framed strong laws to deal with organised crime. By not giving Presidential assent to these bills, the UPA Government has ensured that these laws don'tbecome operational. It is a clear case of partisan approach even on issues of national security as identical laws are in operation in Congress-ruled states of Maharashtra and Andhra. A similar law passed by Himachal during Congress rule received the presidential assent.
Horrible multiple bombing of crowded areas in Jaipur on May 13 that claimed at least 64 lives and crippled several hundred others is the latest in the series of terror attacks on innocent citizens in the name of Jehad. People of Rajasthan, particularly of Jaipur, and the State Government deserve kudos for responding to the terror attack with alacrity and maturity. Citizens rushed in to help the victims and rushed the injured to hospitals. Hundreds lined up to donate blood so that some of the lives could be saved. The needle of suspicion points to a dangerous mix of Harket-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI) ? the notorious Islamist terrorist outfit that operates from Bangladesh ? and sleeper module of Students? Islamic movement of India (SIMI). It was therefore natural that the administration was asked to verify the antecedents of migrants from Bangladesh to find out if anyone of them was involved in the May 13 horrendous attack. The mere mention of the illegal migrants from Bangladesh raised the hackles of the ?secular? brigade. Unmindful of the havoc terrorists caused, ?secularists? launched a campaign of vilification against the BJP Government accusing it of ?harassing? Bengali-speaking Muslims and worse. In a befitting reply to this calumny, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje went on record to say that in response to several communications to the Union Home Ministry about the problems posed by illegal migrants, she had received the surprising suggestion from the Central Government to put all Bangladeshis into a transit camp. This disclosure has exposed the UPA Government'sduplicity and bankruptcy of ideas and policies.
While the Rajasthan Government? paramount duty is to bring the culprits to justice and identify illegal Bangladeshis without delay, the Central Government must wake up to the serious threat posed by Islamic terrorism and take pro-active measures to contain it. Nothing short of a federal agency and a strong law to deal with terror will do. Let the Congress made up its mind. BJP has let it be known that it would be too willing to lend support in this national cause.