Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday said he would write to all state governments, urging them to set up panels to review cases of terror against youths from minority communities who were being held without trial for long periods.
“I am again writing to all CMs asking them to appoint a screening or advisory committee, like in the case of POTA. These will be state-level committees,” Shinde said.
The home minister said his proposed advisory for review panels, on the lines of a provision available under the erstwhile Prevention of Terrorism Act, was not specific to Muslims but all minorities.
Shinde had written to the states in September too, saying they ought to avoid “wrongfully” detaining Muslim youths, citing growing concerns in the community that they were being “deliberately” targeted.
The BJP sharply criticised the home minister’s remark, while the JD(U) said the UPA government was merely attempting to woo minorities without being serious.
“Why should you identify religion of criminals? It’s a dangerous trend. Arrests should be made on the basis of crime and not community,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Many Muslims claim they are treated as “usual suspects” in the aftermath of terror attacks, a feeling heightened by instances such as the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts, when youths arrested for terror were let off.
JD(U)’s KC Tyagi said the Congress-led Maharashtra government had the highest number of Muslim detainees. “Insecurity among minorities is a problem most visible in Congress and BJP ruled states. This is not a problem in Bihar,” Tygai said.
According to home ministry officials, though there was provision for review committees under POTA whenever it was deemed necessary, there was no such provision in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the country’s main anti-terror law.