The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019 has today (24 July) been passed by the Lok Sabha, reports Firstpost. The amended bill provides for a provision to designate specific individuals as terrorists.
Home Minister Amit Shah had made a strong pitch for the amendment, stating that if provision to designate individuals as terrorists had previously been in place, then some like Indian Mujahideen founder Yasin Bhatkal would have been arrested much earlier.
Shah also argued that terrorism financiers should be officially labelled as terrorists, and also defended the government’s record in cracking down on urban activists who sympathised with and aided Maoist activities.
He cited the fact that all major powers in the world already have such a law, including the European Union, the United States, China, among others.
A number of Opposition leaders, among them Congress leader of the Floor Adhir Ranja Chowdhury, Shashi Tharoor, and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, walked out in protest against the amendment bill.
Opposition MPs opposed the bill on several grounds, including possible misuse by the government, prospect of it being used to target minorities, etc.
"We can't give up individual rights. Many of us in this House started our life as activists. The right to dissent must be protected," said Karti Chidambaram.
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