Lok Sabha passes bill to strengthen NIA


Seeking to give more teeth to the anti-terror body National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Lok Sabha, the lower House of Indian parliament, on Monday passed a Bill to allow it to probe terrorist acts against Indians and Indian interests abroad. The amendments will also allow the NIA to probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking.

The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the November, 2008 Mumbai terror attack that claimed 166 lives. Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has been pushing for giving more powers to the NIA to meet fresh challenges. Defending the Bill, the government refuted opposition's claims of "misuse" of the NIA law to target members of a community and asserted its only goal is to finish off terrorism.

In an intervention during the discussion on National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah said parliament should speak in one voice in giving powers to the NIA to send out a message to terrorists and the world Some MPs said the anti-terror law is misused at times to target members of a particular community.

"Let me make it clear the Modi government has no such intention. Its only goal is to finish off terrorism but we will also not look at the religion of the accused while taking action," Shah said. He said terror attacks witnessed an upsurge after the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was repealed resulting in the Congress-led UPA government being forced to constitute the NIA after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.