Opposition members on Monday demanded in Rajya Sabha the enactment of an anti-terror law on the pattern of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act to check the "deteriorating" internal security situation.
Initiating a discussion, former Law Minister Arun Jaitley said the repeal of POTA had curbed the powers of security agencies to check rising incidents of terrorism. He accused the government of compromising on the central premise of cross-border terrorism.
Countering Jaitley, Congress's Abhishekh Manu Singhvi described the government's approach in insurgency-ridden areas as a "healing touch" policy (as opposed to "soft policy"). He said crime figures in both J&K and the Northeast had declined during UPA rule. Referring to the NDA government's decision to set free Purulia arms drop case accused Peter Bleach, he charged the Opposition with maintaining double standards.
Listing the "failures" of the UPA, Jaitley said it was "clueless" on J&K and Northeast while Left-wing extremist groups were gaining in strength. The Centre's inclination to grant pardon to Afzal Guru is "entirely unacceptable", he added.
The Shiv Sena's Manohar Joshi alleged the UPA's policy of appeasement "towards a particular community" had weakened the security environment. The remark sparked off protests. Home Minister Shivraj Patil intervened to say such references do not contribute to building a congenial social environment and it is wrong to blame a particular caste or community for such acts.
The exchanges between the treasury and Opposition benches went on for a good 10 minutes. Before adjourning the House, deputy chairman K. Rehman Khan said members should aim at uniting the country rather than causing social divide.
Throughout the day, Samajwadi Party members forced adjournment of the House thrice with allegations that the government was considering imposing central rule in Uttar Pradesh.