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Posted on Feb 22, 07:10PM | IANS
New Delhi, Feb 22 : Under opposition attack in the wake of twin blasts in Hyderabad, union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde Friday went on the defensive, saying that government was taking tough steps against terrorism.
The home minister, who visited Hyderabad in morning, made identical statements in both houses giving the sequence of events and stating that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would probe the blasts in which 16 people were killed and over 100 injured.
He also said the blast showed there was a need for the proposed National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and said that government was ready to discuss the reservations parties had on it.
The proposal to set up NCTC has been put on hold after several states protested against its implementation, saying it would encroach on their rights.
"The blast proves there is a need for the NCTC. When we were bringing it, every one said it is against the states. We are ready to bring the NCTC, we can discuss it," he said in the Rajya Sabha.
He said the National Intelligence Grid was already helping in handling the menace of terrorism.
"The government is committed to combat such cowardly terror attack and it shall make all possible efforts to apprehend the perpetrators and masterminds behind the blasts and ensure that they are punished as per the law," Shinde said while reading from his statement.
In his statement, which was rejected by opposition as lacking any relevant information, Shinde expressed his condolence for those who lost their lives and said that compensation of Rs.2 lakh has been announced for the dead and Rs.50,000 for the injured by the center while state government announced Rs.6 lakh for the deceased and Rs.50,000 to Rs.1 lakh for the injured.
The opposition, however, totally rejected the statement.
"The home minister says there was intelligence information that was passed on to states. If there were alerts and the attack was carried out and innocent people were killed... then there is a massive failure," Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.
The BJP's M. Venkaiah Naidu was more aggressive in the Rajya Sabha, blaming the government for "a casual approach towards terror".
"Government had the information, but they were not alert. This is a casual approach towards terrorism," Naidu said.
Saying that he will not name any country, Naidu added: "It is the handiwork of our neighbor to disturb peace in India."
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley stressed that government should ensure no more such incidents occur, and also emphasized on strengthening intelligence.
The opposition also attacked the home minister for not going to Hyderabad Thursday night itself.
Shinde however clarified that he went to the blast hit city as soon as he could.
"Till 8.30 p.m. I was in the cabinet, after that I was coordinating on phone. Early morning at 4 a.m. I went to Hyderabad," Shinde said in his clarification in the Rajya Sabha.
"When such an incident occurs, it is better if VIPs don't go their immediately. The police has to collect evidence, cordon the area; if a VIP is there police will have to provide protection to them and not be able to do its job," he said.
The home minister also sought the cooperation of all parties in fighting terror and assured that government was taking stringent steps.
"Only words will not help, action will. If we all work together, and the way government has been taking strong steps, we will try to finish terrorism," Shinde said in the Rajya Sabha while responding to a querry.
Talking about the blast, Shinde said that preliminary investigations revealed that the IEDs were placed on bicycles causing explosion at both the places.