Government says committed to fighting terror, faces flak from BJP
New Delhi, Feb 22 : The government Friday said it was committed to fighting terrorism, even as the BJP slammed the centre for the intelligence failure behind the Hyderabad blasts that killed 16 people and injured 117.
The blasts, along with hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, rocked both houses of parliament on the second day of the budget session, leading to several adjournments.
"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 in the Lok Sabha, reading from a written statement. He made a similar statement in the Rajya Sabha.
Facing criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in both houses, Shinde pitched for the proposed National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) apex counter-terror organisation. The proposal 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.
Shinde sought the cooperation of all the parties in fighting terrorism in the country.
The BJP asked him to act and said the government and the opposition need to fight the menace jointly.
"Show that you are committed to fight terrorism. Is the centre's role only to alert the states or help them stop acts of terror," Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj asked in the Lok Sabha after Shinde's statement that prior alerts had been provided to Andhra Pradesh about such terror attacks.
"If intelligence was available on terror attacks then the liability of the government is more... what were the state and central governments doing," she asked.
The BJP leader said the central government had alerted Bangalore and Mumbai also and wanted to know what steps had been taken to secure the two cities.
Sushma Swaraj sought to link the Hyderabad blasts with the hanging of Afzal Guru and asked why the government took nine years to execute the parliament attack convict.
The leader of opposition also sought to know if the blasts were linked to the inflammatory speeches made recently by the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) leaders in Hyderabad.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said that it is "sad the first day of budget session was chosen to give the grim reminder India is very high up on terror radar."
"Government should ensure that the Hyderabad blasts were the last such incident faced by India."
Under attack, Shinde told parliament that he visited Hyderabad early in the morning and reviewed the situation with the Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, as well as police officers.
He also visited the injured in hospitals.
He said union Home Secretary R. K. Singh and National Investigation Agency (NIA) Director General S.C. Sinha visited Hyderabad and reviewed the situation with the governor, the chief minister and senior state officials.
Shinde said the NIA would conduct the investigation along with the Andhra Pradesh Police.
"Preliminary investigations reveal that the IEDs were placed on bicycles causing explosion at both the places," he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a compensation of Rs.2 lakh to families of the deceased, while the Andhra Pradesh government had announced Rs.6 lakh to families of the dead and Rs.50,000-Rs.1 lakh to the injured, he said.
"The situation is (now) under control," Shinde added.