The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tamil twins reject terror law salve

Chennai, Oct. 22: The Centre’s new proposal to curb misuse of the anti-terrorism law has failed to mollify the NDA’s main Tamil Nadu allies, the DMK and the MDMK.

Rejecting the proposed ordinance that will make the central Prevention of Terrorism Act review committee’s suggestions on arrests binding on the states as well as the Centre, the two parties today reiterated their calls for the law’s repeal.

“There is no change in our stand” that the anti-terror legislation should be repealed and “there is no virtue in such tinkering”, DMK president M. Karunanidhi told a news conference here.

MDMK leader Vaiko, who was today brought to the court at Poonamallee which is trying anti-terror law cases, welcomed the Centre’s attempt to prevent misuse of the law, but said: “I stick to my stand that Pota should be repealed in toto.”

Pointing out that the question of “review of cases” came after the law had been invoked, Karunanidhi said it was more important to “find ways to negate the very use of Pota”. The Centre’s proposal “is general in nature and the ordinance is yet to be promulgated”, he pointed out.

In Tamil Nadu, several people were suffering because of the “misuse of Pota”. Vaiko, Tamil Nationalist Movement leader Pazha Nedumaran, editor of the Tamil biweekly, Nakeeran, R.R. Gopal, and over 25 others have been in jail under the controversial law for over a year now, he said. “Hence, we demand that the law itself be withdrawn,” said Karunanidhi.

The DMK’s planned picketing of central and state government offices on December 1 to push their demand for repeal of the anti-terrorism act was on course, he added.

Recalling how he had vehemently opposed the law, along with Murasoli Maran of the DMK, when it was being discussed in the NDA, Vaiko said: “I expressed my view that Pota will be abused for political vendetta to stifle the voice of the Opposition, like Misa and Tada.”

But the ruling coalition decided to push it through on the plea that it was necessary to curtail cross-border terrorism. “I did not speak to support the bill in discussions held either in the Lok Sabha or in the joint session of both Houses of Parliament despite the request made by law minister Arun Jaitley,” said Vaiko.

“Due to coalition politics, I voted for the bill, but I do consider that I committed a mistake that I do not justify,” he added.

Recent developments have established that “Pota has not served its purpose” to prevent cross-border terrorism. On the other hand, it was being misused to settle political scores and, hence, should be repealed in toto, Vaiko argued.

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