Amidst a heated debate and a Congress walk out, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill with 284 votes in its favour and eight against it.
Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday defended amendments to the anti-terror law, saying they are was essential to keep law enforcement agencies one step ahead of terrorists. Responding to a debate in Lok Sabha on a bill seeking to amend the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, he asserted anti-terror laws would not be misused and used only to root out terrorism.
He said that provision in UAPA (amendment) bill, which was later passed in the Lower House by a voice vote, to designate a person suspected to have terror links as terrorist is necessary to root out terror. Hitting out at the Congress for opposing the amendment, he said if the UPA was correct in amending anti-terror laws in their tenure, then so is the NDA. He said, in the name of ideology, some people promote urban Maoism and the government has no sympathy towards them.
“The government fights terrorism and it should not matter which party is in power,” Shah said, referring to amendments made in anti-terror laws by successive governments. During a division of votes, demanded by AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi for consideration of the bill, as many as 287 MPs supported it and only eight opposed it. Amendments brought in by some opposition members were also defeated by huge numbers during division of votes. When the AIMIM member insisted on division of votes over amendments, Speaker Om Birla quoted rule to say that he can ask the members supporting or opposing them to stand up for counting, if he feels it appropriate.
In his speech, Shah lashed out at people behind ‘urban Maoism’, a term used by the BJP and its ideological allies for those it blames for supporting Maoists, and said the government had no sympathy for them. “In the name of ideology, some people promote urban maoism. We have no sympathy for them,” he said. Left wing violence was initially considered an ideology and gullible people were misguided to kill others, he said.
“The only purpose of this law is to root out terrorism. We will ensure that this law will not be misused,” he said. The Congress under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had brought in UAPA, he said, targeting the opposition party, whose members earlier questioned the rationale behind the law. Radical preachers are propagating ideology of hate and terrorism, Shah said, claiming that terrorism is born out of a person’s mindset and is not about institutions. “It is the priority of the government to root out terrorism,” he said.
“Some (opposition) members said that we have destroyed the federal structure by bringing this amendment. If the federal structure has been destroyed then it was destroyed during the UPA time as the law was enacted then,” he said. If somebody indulges in terrorist activities then definitely the NIA will seize his computers and other devices, he added.