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Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed to be first designated terrorists under new anti terror law

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New Delhi, July 27: Maulana Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed will be the first two to be banned as individuals under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Under the amended act, an individual can be designated as a terrorist. The government can impose a travel ban, seize passports and also confiscate their properties under the amended version of the act. While it has passed the Lok Sabha test, the amendment is yet to be cleared in the Rajya Sabha.

File photo of Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar

A top Home Ministry official tells OneIndia that the law is in conformity with the United Nations conventions. Once an individual is banned, the details would be shared with other countries as well.

Many have termed the new provisions as draconian and say that there is a chance that it could be misused. However officials say that such a ban can be imposed only after prior approval of the Union Home Ministry. Moreover there are redressal forums that will be provided if an individual feels that he or she has been wronged.

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One of the key provisions of the amendment is to designate individuals as terrorists. This is a key provision and anti terror agencies have found it hard to deal with individuals who propagate in favour of both terrorists and naxalites.

In the investigations conducted into the urban naxal case, it was found many in the cities were propagating the ideology of the maoists. They however got away for long as they posed as activists. The investigations into the Bhima Koregaon case not only showed how these so-called activists spread the propaganda, but also managed to channelise funds.

Some of the salient features of the the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill are: It allows the National Investigation Agency to attack property of terrorists on the orders of the NIA chief. This means the the attachment of property would not take place on the orders of the state government. Secondly it would allow the government to designate an individual as a terrorist. It would also allow an officer in the rank of inspector to probe a terror case.

Experts say that the provision to designate an individual as a terrorist is important. Many masquerading as activists indulge in pro-naxal and terror activities. They move money, radicalise and also propagate a violent ideology. However, they always would get away on the ground that they were only activists.

Union Home Minister, Amit Shah said that there are people who propagate literature and theory of terror to brainwash the youth. I am of the belief that terrorism is not born out of the barrel of the gun. He said that there are many who run a misinformation campaign for terrorists and masquerade as activists and ideologues. These are responsible for the spread of terrorism and extremism, he also added.

Responding to a debate on a bill that amends the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Lok Sabha, he also asserted that anti-terror laws would not be misused and it would be used only to root out terrorism. He added that the provision in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) (Amendment) Bill to designate a person suspected to have terror links as a terrorist is necessary to root out terror.

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Criticising the Congress for opposing the amendment, Shah said if the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was correct in amending anti-terror laws in their tenure, then so is the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP.

Shah said that some people, in the name of ideology, promote urban Maoism and the government has no sensitivity towards them. The government fights terrorism and it should not matter which party is in power, he said, referring to amendments made in anti-terror laws by successive governments.

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