Saturday’s bomb blasts in Hyderabad, just months after a similar attack in that City and in Bombay, have resulted in our political parties taking their usual positions. The BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu has said the continuing terror attacks inside the country were a direct result of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) not being in force, and L.K. Advani has said the terror attacks could have been prevented if “tough anti-terror laws” were in place.
On the other hand, the Union home minister Shivaraj Patil has asserted there is no question of bringing back POTA, which was allowed to die a quiet death by the United Progressive Alliance government. “There is no guarantee that such incidents would not have occurred if this legislation had been in force. Such incidents, in fact, took place even after POTA was brought in, he pointed out.”
Questions: Should POTA be brought back? Did POTA play a role in curbing terror or is its utility being overstated? Was the UPA decision not to renew POTA politically motivated to “appease the minorities”, as the BJP claims, or was it a fair move given its widespread misuse? Is the introduction of “tough, anti-terror laws” which places individual freedom and civil liberties on the backburner OK if it makes India terror-free?