NEW DELHI: After intense debate, the Lok Sabha on Monday passed the NIA (Amendment) Bill, giving sweeping powers to the agency to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad, cyber crimes, and cases of human trafficking.
The debate saw the opposition raising concerns that the NIA law might be misused to target a particular community, but the government trashed the allegation saying its goal is to finish off terrorism.
While sparks flew during the debate, the Bill sailed through in the LS after Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that let there be a division of votes as demanded by AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, to know who is against terrorism and who is not. Division of votes saw members opposed to the legislation eventually supporting it.
The Bill was passed with 278 members supporting and just six opposing it.
The legislation seeks to broaden the NIA mandate to probe and prosecute scheduled offences, and also to create special courts.
The debate witnessed heated exchanges between Owaisi and Shah when the AIMIM MP contested BJP MP Satyapal Singh’s claim that sleuths were forced to change the course of investigation during the UPA era.
Reacting sharply to Owaisi, Shah said, “We listened to you when you spoke, now you’ll have to listen to us.”
Owaisi countered this, saying, “Don’t threaten us by raising your finger.”
Shah replied, “I’m not threatening, but if you’ve fear in your heart what can I do.”
Later, Shah said the government would finish off terrorism irrespective of any religion.
No misuse of NIA law, govt assures the house
The Home Minister strongly refuted apprehensions of members of potential misuse of the provisions on the lines of the repealed POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act).
“The UPA government in 2004 in its first Cabinet meeting repealed POTA for political reasons. We’ve seen a spurt of terror attacks during 2004-08. Had there been POTA, there wouldn’t have been so many terrorist attacks. The UPA dispensation was compelled to constitute NIA after the Mumbai terror attack,” Shah argued.
Countering DMK MP A Raja’s claims that the government talks of fighting Left Wing Extremism but there’s no mention of right-wing extremism, Shah said the Narendra Modi government doesn’t see terrorism as “left or right”.
Responding to NCP MP Supriya Sule’s raising the issue of the murder of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, Shah said the cases aren’t with the NIA, but justice would be done.
To Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee seeking clarification if Pakistan would sign the anti-terrorism pact, Shah said there are other ways to deal with Pakistan.