Chennai, Jan. 12: Tamil Nadu has lent the Centre’s anti-terror law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, more teeth with its announcement that the entire state is now a notified area.
The mere “possession of unauthorised arms or ammunition in a notified area” can attract Section 4 of the anti-terror law.
The governor, in a recent notification, has specified the “whole of the state of Tamil Nadu as notified area for the purpose of Section 4” of the law.
This implies that anyone illegally possessing arms or ammunition in any part of Tamil Nadu could now be held under the anti-terror law, unlike earlier when the offence would have invoked the Arms Act or the Explosive Substances Act.
Section 4 says: “Where any person is in unauthorised possession of any, (a) arms or ammunition specified in Columns 2 and 3 of Category I or Category IIIa of Schedule 1 to the Arms Rules 1962, in a ‘Notified Area’, (the area has to be specified by the state government by a notification), (b) bombs, dynamite or hazardous explosive substances or other lethal weapons capable of mass destruction or biological or chemical substances of warfare in any area, whether notified or not, shall be guilty of a terrorist act.”
Section 4 is applicable despite what any other law, now in force, might prescribe.
The illegal possession of the listed weapons would “be punishable with imprisonment for life or with fine, which may extend to Rs 10 lakh, or both”.
Recently, the Tamil Nadu police arrested several Naxalites, including women, in Dharmapuri district and some Islamic extremists.
A few days ago, the special task force set up to nab Veerappan arrested three members of the Tamil Liberation Front, led by Ilavarasan, who reportedly had a hand in Veerappan’s abduction of former Janata Dal (U) leader H. Nagappa. The leader was found dead in Karnataka’s Chengadi forest 106 days after the kidnapping.
With the new notification in place, the state can now invoke the anti-terror law against all these people, from whom arms and ammunition were seized on their arrest, sources said.
The notification, however, has come several months after the Jayalalithaa regime first arrested people under the anti-terror law. In July last year, MDMK leader Vaiko and eight of his partymen were arrested under the anti-terror law for organising a public meeting in Thirumangalam, near Madurai, in alleged open support of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).