TAMIL NADU

Will amendment help Vaiko, asks Kannappan

Coimbatore Oct. 28. The Union Minister of State for Non-conventional Energy Sources and MDMK treasurer, M. Kannappan, today reiterated his party's demand for repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, expressing scepticism over the efficacy of the amendment, brought in last night, to the law in "protecting the freedom of an ordinary citizen".

Recently, the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, wrote to the Prime Minister, A.B.Vajpayee, that Mr. Kannappan's expression of support for the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam could attract the provisions of the POTA.

Speaking to presspersons here, Mr. Kannappan wondered whether the amendment applied to cases against Vaiko, MDMK general secretary, (trial for which is on) and R.R. Gopal, editor, Nakkeeran.

"We do not know whether it is going to be retrospective for cases before court. When even those with a political background (such as Mr. Vaiko) could hope for justice only after a long period of imprisonment and suffering, how is the amendment going to be of any use to the common man? Besides, one could move the Review Committee only after detention".

To a question whether he was irked by absence of any specific time-frame for the Review Committee to dispose of an appeal, he said " I do not have the details. I will not be able to comment at this point of time".

Though the "draconian" law had not been invoked in 15 States and six Union Territories , there was no law and order problem there.

As many as 300 cases were booked and more than 1,600 persons detained under the POTA, but only in States such as Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, the Act was misused against political opponents.

Citing the recent communication of Ms. Jayalalithaa to the Centre that during her previous tenure (1991-96) she was able to control "extremists" and "reactionary forces",

Mr. Kannappan asked "when she could maintain law and order without the help of the POTA then, where is the necessity for such a law now."

As the very " objective" of the law ( combating terrorism ) was not fulfilled, it would be better if it was repealed, he said.

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