The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Terror law heat on Cong

New Delhi, Nov. 6: Reacting strongly to Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s statement that if necessary the Assembly would review the anti-terror Ordinance, the BJP today asked the Congress to clarify whether it stands by the accord signed between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah that gave the Centre exclusive powers to deal with subversive activities.

Stating that Mufti’s stand negated the 1975 accord and the constitutional order enacted by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, the party asked the Congress, a coalition partner, to react to Mufti’s “rhetoric”.

Briefing reporters, BJP spokesperson Arun Jaitley said the state government had “absolutely no right in the matter of legislating or to repeal law which deals with terrorism and sovereignty of India”.

“It was unambiguously clear in the constitutional position. The recent political history of Jammu and Kashmir and its constitutional integration with India conclusively establishes this,” he said.

Jaitley said the state government and the Assembly have “absolutely no jurisdiction and it is incumbent upon every state to implement anti-terrorist law and only Parliament has the right to enact or repeal the law”.

The BJP spokesperson said it was “curious” that the chief minister has been repeating these statements and “he must realise that terrorism is not fought through rhetoric and speeches. It has to be tackled by a comprehensive strategy which the Central government has been working.”

Warning that these kind of statements from the chief minister would only send signals that the state government “was being soft on terrorism”, he said this was disturbing since the people have voted against terrorism and expect the government to cooperate with the national effort for a final assault on terrorism.

The 1975 accord inter alia had mentioned that “the existing jurisdiction of the Centre to deal with activities directed towards questioning, or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, or bringing about cession or secession of any part of the territory of India from the Union, will also continue”.

The pact further said: “The residuary powers of legislation shall remain with the state; however, Parliament will continue to have power to make laws relating to the prevention of activities directed towards disclaiming, questioning or disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India or bringing about cession of a part of the territory of India or secession of a part of territory of India from the Union or causing insult to the Indian national flag, the Indian national anthem and the Constitution.”

Jaitley said the jurisdiction to enact law in relation to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir or any other state exclusively rests with Parliament and Mufti’s statement appears to be born out of ignorance.

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