March 2002 News

J&K Government to review POTO cases: Farooq

23 March 2002
The Hindu

JAMMU: The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah, announced in the Assembly today that the State Government would review the cases registered under the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) in the State and if he found that the measure was being misused, he would come to the House to get its operation stopped. Clarifying his position, the Chief Minister said: ''The POTO has not been imposed here to settle personal scores, nor is it being operated on the basis of region or religion.'' ''If during the review, the Government finds that any officer has used it wrongly, I will take him to task.'' Jammu and Kashmir is the first State to have implemented POTO and 307 cases have been registered. The total number of persons arrested under this law is 72. Justifying the law, the Chief Minister said that POTO was being implemented against those who were indulging in anti-national activity. Other States also should do the same but make sure that POTO was not wrongly implemented. Many innocent persons became victims under the TADA. There was a need to learn from the past mistakes, he said. About his party''s (National Conference) decision to abstain from voting on POTO in the Rajya Sabha, Dr. Abdullah said it was getting reports that POTO was being misused against the minorities in Gujarat and ''I was pained to hear that, therefore, we were abstained from voting.'' ''During the three- hour National Democratic Alliance meeting in the capital, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister assured me again and again that the Central Government will make sure that POTO is not used against the minorities and that it will keep a close watch wherever it is implemented.'' He added that the Home Minister also assured the NDA allies that POTO would not be used in cases registered against those people who were found involved in the recent communal carnage in Gujarat including those in the Godhra killings. Earlier, the Chief Minister, paying tributes to Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev for their supreme sacrifice in the cause of the country''s freedom struggle, said the elements ''whipping up a communal frenzy at this time'' should remember the martyrdom of ''these great heroes'' and ''do nothing that would weaken the country''. All sections should control their emotions, especially when the troops were deployed at the borders and ''we must strengthen their hands''. Stressing the need for unity, Dr. Abdullah said: ''The fundamentalist forces in the country should know that the fight for the country''s freedom was not based on religion and we must learn from that historical phase (freedom struggle) of our country that if we remain united and work together we can do the impossible and truly become a great country.'' The Chief Minister said that at the NDA partners'' meetings with the Prime Minister, it was stressed that all religions should be honoured equally and no one should feel that he could not live in this country.


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