The government on Tuesday moved a Bill to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, to streamline the process of confiscating terrorists' property and to designate individuals as terrorists along with groups, among other changes, in the Lok Sabha.
Moving The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, for passage, Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said the government wants to take strict steps against terrorism for which it has adopted a 'zero tolerance' policy.
Terrorism, which was once noticed around Jammu and Kashmir decades ago, has not spread across the world, he said, asserting that the menace has decreased in the last five years because "state-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, has been dealt with firmly and effectively".
The Minister also said that terrorism has also been restricted since security forces have been given free hand to tackle it. He said insurgent activities in the northeast have come down by 66 per cent in last five years, while the situation in Maoist-affected districts, whose number has come down to 60, has also been improved.
"Of those 60 districts, the incidents have reduced to 10 districts. Maoist activities are going down in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, West Bengal... It all happened because of our government's strategy.
"For the government's continuous effort against terrorism, we want amendment in the UAPA Act," he said.
Reddy specifically stressed on three major amendments to the Act.
While the existing Act allows the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to confiscate the property of terrorists, the anti-terrorist agency has to take permission from states, he noted.
"As one terrorist has properties in different states, it takes too much time for the agency to get permission. For which I request the Parliament to amend the act to give this power to the NIA," the Minister said.
On the second amendment, Reddy said that if a terrorist organisation is banned, it opens another group with different name. "To deal with this issue, the government needs right to designate individuals as terrorists."
The amendment provides that an individual will be declared as a terrorist if he commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares, promotes or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
On the third amendment, the Minister said Deputy Superintendent-level officers are made investigating officers and this should changed to make Inspector rank officers the in-charge.
"As drug and human trafficking related cases have been added in NIA's purview, the agency's work load has increased. As Inspector-level officers also have expertise due to their continuous work in this sector, we want to make them in-charge and keep the DSP and SP level officers as supervisory officers," he said.
Stressing the government's purpose is only to strengthen the NIA and make it effective, Reddy said: "I want the Parliament to give NIA special powers."
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