India: Govt to seek faster trial of Muslims held on terror charges

15th May 2013

NEW DELHI, (Times of India): In what seems like a move to cater to sectional sentiments, home minister  Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday said the Centre will ask states to set up fast-track courts to take up cases of Muslim youth who are in jail on terror charges.
Shinde said he will take up the demand for quicker trails at the chief ministers’ conference on internal security on June 5.
The minister said the Centre has sent an advisory to all states and is trying to find out how many Muslim inmates (involved in terror cases) are in jail and for how many years.

“We are trying to find out the facts. It will take time. We have asked the states to set up fast-track courts,” Shinde said when asked about his earlier promise to set up such courts.

The move came after various political parties took up the demand of Muslim bodies that “wrong arrests” of Muslim youth in terror cases must be reviewed with Uttar Pradesh chief minister  Akhilesh Yadav setting a trend by saying he would set free “innocent” prisoners.

Congress also seems to be feeling the pressure from smaller “secular” parties and Shinde had invited controversy earlier with his “Hindu terror” comment.

Although he had to retract on his remarks as BJP threatened to boycott him in Parliament, Shinde has found it necessary to echo the demand for a special review of Muslim youth held in terror cases.

He might have found some reason to do so as some Muslims held in terror cases have been let off for want of evidence. But issuing a central advisory or bringing it up at the meeting of chief ministers in a community-specific manner, rather than as a general measure to speedily try terrorism cases, seems to smack of political calculations.

Asked about the progress made in the Hyderabad and Bangalore blast cases, Shinde said though investigators couldn’t find much in the Hyderabad probe, there was some progress in investigation into the April 17 blast in Bangalore.

Commenting on setting up of the controversial NCTC, the home minister said the draft of the proposal with changes would be placed before the chief ministers for discussion on June 5.

“Since we have removed the operational power from the IB ( Intelligence Bureau), there should not be any more apprehension from anyone,” he said. Though the minister didn’t share details, he referred to the new draft which keeps  NCTC out of IB and makes a provision where the anti-terror body wouldn’t do any operation (search, seizure or arrest) without taking the state concerned into the loop.

Most non-Congress chief ministers like  Mamata Banerjee ( West Bengal),  Naveen Patnaik (Odisha),  Nitish Kumar ( Bihar),  Narendra Modi (Gujarat) and J Jayalalitha ( Tamil Nadu) have opposed the original proposal of NCTC saying it would infringe upon the states’ power and hurt the federal structure of the country.


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