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PM for purposive response to terror

Manmohan virtually rules out tough anti-terror legal laws as demanded by the IB chief, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2006 01:11 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh virtually ruled out the demand for tough anti-terror legal laws on Saturday, saying the government was "firmly" committed to enforcing zero tolerance to terrorism "within the framework of our existing legal system".

Singh had heard the Intelligence Bureau chief ESL Narasimhan make out a case for strengthening the legal framework to fight terror at a conference of police officers on Thursday. The PM's response came on Saturday, wrapped up in a speech at a seminar on terrorism, law and development.

The PM made no direct reference to Narasimhan's demand. But the emphasis on the existing legal framework and the "need" for law enforcement machinery to set their house in order indicated that the targeted audience was the security establishment clamouring for tougher provisions.

"We need to use relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to cut off the flow of funds to terrorist groups," Singh said, suggesting that the problem was not with the laws but their inefficient deployment.

Singh went on, in some sense, to tell them what else they needed to work on. "We also need to streamline our investigation and prosecution machinery to apprehend culprits involved in acts of terrors. We have to pursue investigation and prosecution of such cases in a professional and scientific manner," he said, advising them to make a "determined effort" to ensure that the innocent are not harmed or harassed.

"Judiciary at different levels also has a vital role in ensuring that such cases are tried expeditiously and offenders are brought to justice without undue delay," the PM pointed out in his speech that also called for "a clear and purposive" response to terrorism, insurgency and extremism. "Certain and swift punishment is often the effective deterrent to potential wrongdoers."

Singh, who has had to face uncomfortable moments on several occasions when minority leaders complain about policemen going on an overdrive and painting the entire community with the same brush, also advised them against this tendency. At the same time, he also asked leaders of all communities to ensure that the "fringe elements" seeking to disrupt the society are identified, isolated and encouraged to join the national mainstream.