Shinde promises firm action to eliminate terror

The Union government on Friday came under sharp attack from the Opposition parties, particularly the BJP, for failing to avert the Hyderabad blasts despite having intelligence inputs, even as Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde promised “firm action” to eliminate terror.

On his return from terror-hit Hyderabad, Mr. Shinde, who made a statement in both Houses of Parliament, said the Centre alerted all States about intelligence inputs that pointed to possible terror attacks, with potential targets being in five cities, including Hyderabad.

The police chiefs of these cities were alerted in this regard five-six days ago, he told Parliament which saw a few adjournments and trading of charges between the Treasury and the Opposition benches on the blast issue.

Stating that the government would take all possible steps to bring to justice the culprits behind the twin blasts, Mr. Shinde pointed out that terror incidents declined from 10 in 2008 to two in 2012 due to the ‘proactive measures’ taken by the Union and the State governments. More firm action would be taken in the coming months to tackle the menace of terror, he added.

Raking up the issue of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), mooted by his predecessor P. Chidambaram and now put in cold storage due to opposition from some non-Congress State governments, Mr. Shinde said the body was needed for closer coordination between the Centre and States to deal with terror in a holistic manner. The Centre was ready to make some changes in the NCTC draft, including controversial issues like its powers and jurisdiction, to take all opposing States on board, he said.

However, the Opposition parties rejected Mr. Shinde’s statement as “disappointing” and lambasted the Congress-led UPA government for showing no ‘political will’ to check terrorism. The government was also charged with playing vote-bank politics and compromising with national security.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj criticised Mr. Shinde for making a “casual” statement without understanding the gravity of the situation. “The lapse [on the part of the government] gets magnified when such incidents occur despite the government having advance intelligence… the [Union] government’s responsibility does not end by just State governments [on possible terror strikes],” she said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley sought “de-politicisation” of the terror debate and asked the government not to lower its guard while dealing with terrorism. He also said his party-led governments would consider supporting the NCTC provided the States’ rights were not infringed upon.

BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said: “The government’s policy seems to be condolence for the dead and compensation for those who survived. Mr. Shinde’s statement does not reflect a road map to deal with terror.”

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said the occurrence of such incidents, in spite of the united resolve of the House, showed that the government was “lame duck” and so was its intelligence set-up, while senior leaders of other Opposition parties like CPI(M)’s Basudeb Acharia and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav also asked the government to act tough on terror.

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