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Gujarat keeps a terror law spare

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OUR CORRESPONDENT   |   Published 02.06.04, 12:00 AM

Ahmedabad, June 2: The Congress-led central government’s proposed move to scrap the Prevention of Terrorism Act has prompted the Gujarat government to enact an alternative to the anti-terror law.

In a swift move, the government today tabled the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (Amendment) Bill in the Assembly. The bill was passed with a few amendments even as the Opposition Congress walked out questioning the “timing” and intention of the state government.

Congress chief whip Arjun Modvadia alleged that the law is being framed for “political victimisation” of weaker sections of society, especially the minority community. “For the past two years, we have been witnessing the misuse of (the) simple IPC. We fear that if the law is misused, it would be nothing but another draconian law to terrorise, suppress and harass the minority community,” he said.

Sensing that the Centre might repeal the anti-terror law, the state government had begun considering an alternative to deal with “terrorism”. The Gujarat government believes that if the anti-terror act is scrapped, it would lead to a spurt in terrorist activities.

The bill that was tabled today with certain amendments, as suggested by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had already been passed on March 26, 2003, the day former state home minister Haren Pandya was assassinated. It had been awaiting presidential clearance since then.

One of the changes was deletion of the sections that allowed district collectors and superintendents of police to intercept communication.

Minister of state for home Amit Shah told reporters that “the deletion of the clauses and other sub-clauses pertaining to interception of communication will in no way decrease the effectiveness of the law”.

The legislation has all other provisions of the anti-terror law, such as jail without trial. This means even if the anti-terror law is scrapped, all the 279 people booked under the law in the state may not get a reprieve. They could be booked under the state law, which is equally stringent.

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