New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill to give more powers to the National Investigation Agency with Home Minister Amit Shah asserting that the law will be used to finish off terrorism and not to target any community.
The amendments to the NIA Act will allow the agency to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad, cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.
The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives. Since 2017, the Union home ministry has been pushing for giving more powers to the NIA to meet fresh challenges.
Defending the bill, the government refuted Opposition’s allegations of “misuse” of the NIA law to target members of a community, and stressed that people have given the mandate to the government to protect the country from terrorism.
In an intervention during the discussion on National Investigation Agency (amendment) bill, 2019, Shah said Parliament should speak in one voice to send out a message to terrorists and the world.
Some MPs said the anti-terror law is misused at times to target members of a particular community.
“Let me make it clear the Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to finish off terrorism but we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking action,” Shah said.
Replying to the discussion, Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said the government is committed to protect the country from terrorism.
“This is a government run by chowkidar and will be at the forefront for the security of the country,” he said adding terrorism has no religion or caste or region, “it is just terrorism”.
He said that there are no issues of federal system with NIA and it works in close coordination with states and their agencies.
He added that NIA often writes to the Chief Secretary and DGP of state before initiating an investigation.
He said that surgical and airstrikes have shown that there are other means available with the government to deal with terrorism when it comes to Pakistan.
“Things were not properly worked out during your (Congress) government, we are fixing that,” he said.
NIA is investigating as many as 272 cases and has filed charge sheet in 199.
The minister said that out 272 cases, the courts have already delivered their judgments in 51 and in 46 cases, people have been convicted. “There is a 90 per cent conviction rate,” he said.
“We want to strengthen NIA” and it does not have any link to any religion or political party, he said, adding that the people have given the mandate to the government to protect the country from terrorism.
Later Asaduddin Owaisi sought division of votes when the bill came up for passage.