Days after the information and broadcasting minister unequivocally rejected the demand for a separate law to fight terror, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he hadn’t reached a final conclusion.
Singh said he had not made up his mind on the necessity or otherwise of a separate law to fight terror. “I haven’t reached a conclusion yet,” he told reporters accompanying him to the US where he will attend the United Nations General Assembly less than a week after Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi had firmly rejected any possibility of a stringent law.
“No, no, no…if the present anti-terror laws are implemented properly, there is no requirement for additional laws,” Dasmunsi had said, ruling out any possibility of the government bringing in a law that has stringent provisions.
The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by former Karnataka chief minister Veerappa Moily had recently recommended anti-terror provisions, many of them similar to the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act.
The Prime Minister said he had asked a group of officials to study the commission’s recommendations for stringent provisions.
“Fighting terror involves dealing with a lot of complexities,” he said.
Asked about demands from various states wanting to make anti-terror laws and law and order being a state subject, the PM said the Centre could always intervene in situations that demanded it. Several states such as Rajasthan and Gujarat have enacted their terror laws that are pending Centre's approval.
Singh said the timing of the election in Jammu and Kashmir was to be decided by the Election Commission. Asked what was
his political judgment on the right time for elections in the state, Singh replied, in a lighter vein: “Is there ever a good time to face elections?”
“Hopefully”, he said when asked whether he would be campaigning for the Congress in the forthcoming state assembly elections. Asked whether he would be contesting the next Lok Sabha elections, the PM said, “We will cross the bridge when we reach it.”
Asked what message he would convey to the new Pakistani President Zardari during his first meeting, Singh said it would not be proper for him to say anything before the commencement of the talks. Singh, however, said India and Pakistan faced “enormous challenges”. “We have to convert these challenges into opportunities and see how peace can be brought and how we can work together,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)