Saturday, Aug 13, 2022

'Patriotism And Support Of POTO Have Become Synonymous'

One section of the people are very studiously being avoided and that is the Opposition of this country. The Government owes an explanation to the nation.

The hon. Minister of Home Affairs has expressed the resolve of the country that the Indian people are united and determined to stamp out terrorism from the country. We would like to approach this subject from that standpoint. On the 13th of December, there was a deliberate attack on the very foundation of our democratic polity. We have already strongly condemned the incident of the 13th of December.

In matters of terrorism, we have always said that there could be no compromise. For the sake of the country and the protection of the country against heinous offences like terrorism, we should be together. I pay my homage to those who have laid down their lives to protect the important edifice of parliamentary democracy in this country, namely the Parliament House.

Nothing new has been reported in the statement of the hon. Minister of Home Affairs. Till today, the Opposition have to depend only on T.V. or newspapers. Is this the way you will fight untidily against this cult of terrorism and the danger of terrorism? Whenever the hon. Prime Minister has asked us, we have readily gone to his meetings. We have to only depend on newspapers. I do not blame the media. It has played a wonderful role. They risk their lives. It was a live telecast and from that really we came to know what was happening.

I would like to ask from the hon. Prime Minister to point out where the Opposition has showed any lack of patriotism, though we are also given lectures on patriotism. Forget the Opposition, was the Speaker of the House taken into confidence? Was the hon. Chairman of the Rajya Sabha taken into confidence? Today, after the event you are speaking about the security measures in the House.

It is an attack on the Parliament House. Let us sit together and find out what is to be done. From the afternoon of 13th of December, we find special provisions being made, more security staff, armed police and what not. Could that not have been done before the 13th or on the 13th? The unarmed people had come up and they had to give up their lives to protect us. I do not know how to really describe it; my words fail. I have no manner of doubt that nobody would have dared to enter the precincts of this Parliament if there was such proper arrangement. If it was our intelligence and if they trusted our intelligence agencies, then immediate steps should have been taken. The hon. Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra had warned the Government of India quite some time back.

On every stage, very calculatedly, the Opposition parties in this House are being ignored by the Government of India. POTO was thought to be very very important and urgent. An Ordinance can be passed only when immediate action is necessary and the House is not sitting. I would like to know – what action has been taken under this Ordinance? Has any Special Court been set up? Has any designated authority been set up? Even the FIR that has been lodged on the basis of this incident is not under POTO; it is under the ordinary law of the land.

I have heard on the Television that POTO is relevant only for the purpose of trial after arrest. Why all this clamour as if we are the criminals and we are lacking in patriotism because we are opposing POTO? It has been in existence from 24th October, 2001 and this incident occurred on 13th December. How many detentions have been made under this Ordinance? How many terrorist gangs have been busted? How many terrorists have been proceeded against under this law?

If the Government had taken the Opposition into confidence, then probably the framework of law could have been decided upon after due deliberations and suggestions. When you were here, you criticised to the hilt the Acts like TADA. When I oppose POTO for some principle – may be I am misguided, may be I am wrong on my assessment. – but I cannot stand here and allow anybody to challenge my patriotism. Today patriotism and support of POTO have become synonymous. This is a tragedy of this country that important matters are made controversial matters; important issues concerning the security of the country are made partisan issues.

Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi yesterday said all those who are opposing POTO are anti-nationals. Similar observations are made by other Ministers also. I am not going into the merits of POTO, but Mr. Home Minister, you have very much POTO in your hands today. With all your power, you could not stop five persons from entering the precincts of Parliament. We are not against taking all appropriate actions to destroy this scourge of terrorism.

But do not forget today that apart from ourselves, our neighbour is also a nuclear country. Let us exhaust all the possible machinery before we take recourse to this. We have to rouse the world opinion. Before any drastic action is taken – all pros and cons and every issue has to be properly considered. The hon. Home Minister has said that clinching evidence has been found. Give this material to others, see that the world opinion is created in our favour. The former Chiefs of Staff have advised against this. Nothing has been indicated by the hon. Home Minister in his statement and what the Government proposes to do.

The House has not been taken into confidence at all. One section of the people are very studiously being avoided and that is the Opposition of this country. The Government owes an explanation to the nation.