Meena Menon

Slam police and demand immediate reshuffle of top personnel

NAGPUR: The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Opposition in Maharashtra on Tuesday said the covert war by Pakistan must be given a fitting reply. While Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Ramdas Kadam called for war, BJP's Gopinath Munde demanded bombing of the terrorist training camps in Pakistan. The Opposition took on the ruling coalition for its lapses in dealing with the terror strike of November 26 and demanded an immediate change in the top police personnel who head the State and the city of Mumbai. Describing the terror attacks as a virtual war, it also revived the demand for stringent anti-terror laws and a compete revamp of security and intelligence. Ramdas Kadam, Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, which has convened for its winter session in Nagpur, moved an adjournment motion seeking suspension of question hour and a discussion on the terror strikes. After the house accepted this, Mr. Kadam launched into a minute-by-minute description of the terror attacks and what he saw. He was clear that public opinion was in favour of a war against Pakistan. Mr. Munde said the new Chief Minister must send a strong message to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attack the terrorist training camps in Pakistan. On a more local note, Mr. Kadam, said he was out all night visiting various places under attack and he was trying to find out where the commissioner of police Hasan Gafoor was the next morning (November 27). "I was told he was sleeping in a vehicle near the Oberoi hotel and at around 11.30 a.m. I found his car and knocked on the window. The commissioner rolled down the window and he did not know what was happening," Mr. Kadam said. The Opposition has been gunning for Mr. Gafoor and Maharashtra Director General of police A.N. Roy since the attacks. On Tuesday, the demand was embellished with unsavoury examples of their inefficiency. Mr. Kadam and Mr. Munde also demanded to know the whereabouts of Ms. Chitkala Zutshi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and wanted a reply from the new Home Minister on her movements that night. Ms. Zutshi was reportedly rescued from the Taj Mahal Hotel. Mr. Kadam pointed out that since eight years, the State spent Rs.940 crore for modernisation of the police apart from the Rs.135 crore from the Centre. He wondered where this money had gone. He accused the government of corruption in purchase of bullet-proof vests and weapons. Mr. Munde on a more constructive note, proposed several security measures like coastal policing, better road links and a more accountable police. The police commissioner did not visit the spot till after 12.30 a.m. that night, Mr. Munde said while Mr. Roy was in the control room till 1.30 a.m. He said apart from politicians, the bureaucracy also had a responsibility and they should accept the blame.The police were vertically split and was riddled with corruption, factionalism and politics. He said the police force was weakened by this factional fighting and even the ATS and the Crime Branch were at loggerheads. The terror probe should have been conducted by the ATS but the government had handed it over to the Crime Branch for some reason. He said to fight terror the country needs a solid political will and it was time to demand the custody of absconding accused from Pakistan like Dawood Ibrahim, who is wanted in both the 1993 and 2003 serial blasts.The first Congress MLA to speak was Narayan Rane who has been suspended. Mr. Rane wanted to know the exact number of terrorists who had entered the city and said even now no one knows their exact number. The Cabinet never discussed the security issue while he was there and he failed to understand why our police did not have modern weapons. He said India had lowered its image in the world by the way in which it dealt with the terror strikes. It is not enough for people to resign, hold condolence meetings or construct memorials. He asked what assurance was the new government going to give the people of Maharashtra? The discussion is expected to end late on Tuesday night and Home Minister Jayant Patil will reply on Wednesday morning.Related links
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