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Total Defeat for UPAs Anti-POTA Policy

By: V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.
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Terrorists have struck again on a savage and massive scale in Mumbai. Terrorists have ripped Mumbai apart yesterday night. Terrorists virtually took over posh South Mumbai, attacking the Taj and Oberoi Hotels-two of the city"s biggest five-star hotels-as well as the Trident and the Ramada Hotels, Shivaji Terminus Railway Hub and other places with AK 47 assault riffles and grenades. More than 170 people have been killed and nearly 300 others have been seriously injured. 15 police officers are among those killed, including ATS Chief Hemant Karkare. He was shot dead by the terrorists outside the CST police station. Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Tamtte, Encounter Specialist Vijay Salskar and a DIG have also been killed.

The five star hotels continue to be under siege. Speaking from inside the Oberoi hotel where at least half a dozen foreigners are being held hostage the man, identified as Sahadullah, told India TV: "We want all Mujahideens held in India released and only after that we will release the people. There are seven of us inside hotel Oberoi." It is also understood that the terrorists inside the Taj Hotel have issued a warning making a DEMAND to the Government to this effect: "If you don"t release all the Indian Mujahideens and also the Mujahideens in all the other countries of the World outside India from prison immediately, all the hostages inside these hotels would be killed forthwith."

A Jewish rabbi and his family have been taken hostage (and killed by the time this article was published) by gunmen involved in a string of coordinated attacks in Mumbai. Indian Jewish Federation Chairman Jonathan Solomon has said: "The name of the place is Chabad house in South Mumbai. I hear commandos are storming the apartment block, which is a four-storey building. A rabbi is in there with his family. I don"t know the number of gunmen in there. I don"t know how many family members are in there." It has also been reported that the target of the Lashkar Islamic jehadi terrorists from Karachi, Pakistan is to bring down the Jewish prayer hall in Nariman House in Mumbai city. Nariman House is a 5 story dilapidated jewish building which is next to the petrol station in Colaba, where a grenade was thrown last night.

A group calling itself the "Deccan Mujahedeen" has claimed responsibility for Wednesday"s attacks in Mumbai that killed 80 people, and injured over 900. The outfit has sent emails to various media outlets saying it carried out the attacks across the city. Another little-known Islamic group, the Islamic Security Force-Indian Mujahedeen, had claimed responsibility for serial blasts last month in Assam that claimed nearly 80 lives.

Six weeks earlier, New Delhi had been hit by a series of bombs in crowded markets that left more than 20 dead. Those blasts were claimed by a group calling itself the Indian Mujahedeen. It has been reported that in Mumbai blast yesterday terrorists were seen wearing a uniform with jackets emblazoned with VERSA slogan and carrying a Reebok-type sports shoulder bag.

What is shocking and shameful is that less than a week ago our weak Prime Minister and weaker Home Minister had addressed a meeting of Director Generals of Police and other security staff from all the States of India in New Delhi and had made it very clear that the Central Government had no intention whatsoever of re-introducing POTA in order to counter or put down terrorism in India. They were addressing a conference which had been organized to discuss "LEFTWING EXTREMISM, TERRORISM AND INSURGENCY". The Prime Minister said "Our country cannot afford to have a repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks we have witnessed in recent months. I only wish to emphasize here that time is not on our side. We cannot afford a repetition of the kind of terrorist attacks that have recently taken place in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Guwahati and some other urban centers. We should understand that a networked security architecture is essential as risks are often unforeseen and threats are often hidden. This has made the work of law and order professionals far more challenging than ever before. We need, therefore, to be able to anticipate better".

The Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister have been coming out with the same pseudo-secular nursery rhyme after each terrorist attack during the last four years. According to Union Home Ministry figures, the country has witnessed 64 bomb blasts in less than six months this year, which left more than 215 dead and over 900 injured.

Ever since the UPA government under our effete Prime Minister assumed office in 2004, the menace of organised terrorist crimes has been on the increase. Ever since the POTA was revoked in 2004, there has been no effective law in the country to effectively control the organised crimes. All our major cities have become targeted centres of Islamic terrorists who hoard money through illegal means. Islamic Terrorism knows no national boundaries and is fueled by illegal wealth generated by contract killing, extortion, smuggling in contrabands, illegal trade in narcotics, kidnappings for ransom, collection of protection money and money laundering, etc. The existing legal framework i.e. the penal and procedural laws and the adjudicatory system were found to be rather inadequate to curb or control the menace of organised crime. All these aspects have been brilliantly explained in the great Memorandum that was submitted by Narendra Modi to our Prime Minister in the last week of July at Ahmedabad.

Against this background, in July 2008 Narendra Modi in his Memorandum to the Prime Minister, drew his attention to the following important issues:

1. The Central Intelligence agencies should not behave in a casual and routine manner that too in a reactive manner. Getting inputs and just passing on to the states will not serve the purpose. There has to be pro-active, sincere, organised, and continuous efforts to unearth the terrorist activities, networks and their designs.

2. There has to be a national consensus for zero-tolerance against terrorism and necessary political and administrative will has to be mustered to bring this spirit into action.

3. We need to strengthen the legal provisions to fight terrorism. The POTA act has been repealed without any adequate alternative provisions to deal with terrorist acts and threats. Therefore, on the one hand, the states have been rendered helpless without any effective legal mechanism to deal with terrorism and on the other; different states have been dealing similar terrorist acts differently.

4. There is a need for modernisation of the police force and intelligence machinery. The states have to be particularly assisted adequately by the government of India if the terrorist acts are treated as national concern. In case of Gujarat, unfortunately, the grants in this regard have been reduced in spite of State"s good performance in physical and financial terms and in spite of Gujarat being a sensitive border state.

5. Gujarat"s requests for strengthening of the coastal security have not been taken seriously. The State has been repeatedly representing to strengthen the chain of Police Stations and to provide boats for effective surveillance of the coastal security. Similar is the fate of Border Fencing, which is being done in a casual manner.

6. Government of India should create an All India Intelligence Service just like IAS and IPS so that professionalism is inducted into the intelligence wing, which will help the country on a long-term basis.

Let me quote the words of Narendra Modi spoken to the Prime Minister in person in Ahmedabad: "I am anguished to note that the government of India has not given any serious thought to any of my suggestions. Let not another city be added in the list of terrorist attacks. Let not more people lose their lives and limbs. We have no time to lose and we have to act and the union government must be visibly seen leading from the front. I am willing to offer my services, both on a personal level and in my official capacity as Chief Minister, for conceiving and formulating any suitable and effective strategies to fight terrorism".

I spoke to Dr.Subramaniam Swamy and he said that he would like to highlight the following points in the light of what has happened in Mumbai:

1. The 1600 days of the UPA regime has seem the maximum blasts making this country the highest globally in terror attacks.

2. Mrs Sonia Gandhi had thrust a Home Minister on our helpless country who is the most inefficient Home Minister we have ever had after our Independence.

3. For the sake of Muslim votes the Congress and its allies have abetted terrorism by their soft policy.

4. India has become a safe haven for terrorists.

5. Money from abroad is flowing to fund these terrorists.

6. For power the Congress and its allies are prepared to allow innocent people to be sacrificial goats.

7. I have no doubt that the ATS in Maharashtra was instructed by Sonia Gandhi (informally through her Security Advisor) to target the Hindu leaders like RSS Chief Sudharshanji and VHP Chief Ashok Singhal Ji. As the ATS in Maharashtra had diverted most of their staff for doing "political" work as directed by Sonia Gandhi, the ATS was not in a position to effectively deal with the terrorists who chose the right moment to attack Mumbai.

8. The UPA Government have unsettled everything on every front and settled nothing.

Against the above background, the Lok Sabha should demand an immediate Parliamentary Inquiry into the Mumbai blasts which took place yesterday. The House should immediately appoint seven or eight independent members, responsible, experienced and discreet members drawn from major parties, to visit Mumbai and to find out what happened and report to the House. Parliament of the past days in which our country was abuilding would never have hesitated to take such a course of action. We shamelessly talk about our Parliamentary institutions and Parliamentary Democracy. But if these are to survive it will not be because the Constituencies return the same, docile, subservient Members, and try to stamp out every form of Independent judgement.

V Sundaram, IAS, Retd.

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