PRIME MINISTER Manmohan Singh has virtually ruled out the demand for tougher anti-terror laws in the country, saying the government was “firmly” committed to enforcing zero-tolerance to terrorism “within the framework of our existing legal system”.
On Thursday, Singh had heard the Intelligence Bureau chief E.S.L. Narasimhan make out a case for strengthening the legal framework to fight terror at a conference of police officers. The prime minister’s response came on Saturday, wrapped in a speech, at a seminar on terrorism, law and development in Delhi.
Singh made no direct reference to Narasimhan’s demand. But his emphasis on the existing framework and what the security establishment needed to do was a straight answer to the demand 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 with their inefficient enforcement.
“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,” Singh said, advising the security agencies 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 prime minister said. Singh’s speech called for “a clear and purposive” response to terrorism, insurgency and extremism. “Certain and swift punishment is often an effective deterrent to potential wrongdoers,” he said.
Singh advised against the tendency of tarring an entire community “for irresponsible and violent acts of a few individuals”. He urged leaders of all communities to identify and isolate “fringe elements” seeking to disrupt society.