Need to evolve law on interstate crimes: Patil
Mar 6, 2007 - 4:26:14 PM

New Delhi, March 6 - Central Home Minister Shivraj Patil Tuesday reaffirmed the need for a law against federal crimes, saying that states must cooperate in making this a reality.

'Can we evolve a law on federal crimes?' Patil asked while making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, adding: 'We shall have to crystallise our views on this but the states should cooperate in this.'

Patil's statement came in response to members' concerns over the murder of Lok Sabha MP Sunil Mahto of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha - in Jamshedpur Sunday evening. In what the state government has called a retaliatory strike, Mahto and four others were killed by suspected Maoists while watching a football match.

'We should prepare a plan on how to deal with issues that also concern the centre or neighbouring states,' Patil maintained.

Admitting that some states had 'reservations' on the issue, the minister pointed out that a mechanism was already in place in which senior officials at the centre could speak to their counterparts in states if the need for coordinated action on a law and order issue arose.

However, he found himself on the back foot when angry opposition members repeatedly asked why he had not visited the site of the shooting and sent his deputy Sriprakash Jaiswal.

At one stage, while Patil was responding to queries raised by MPs on law and order situation in Jharkhand, an angry Sushma Swaraj - stood up to protest the 'casual manner' in which he was doing so.

Other BJP members supported her, prompting Patil to ask: 'You asked me for clarifications. I am giving them but if you do not want me to speak, I will sit down.'

Even as Chairperson Bhairon Singh Shekhawat urged the minister to continue, BJP members walked out in protest.

Earlier, Patil read out a 13-paragraph statement in which he dealt with the steps being taken to deal with the Maoist menace in Jharkhand and other states. He said the number of incidents had declined by 6.15 percent from 1,608 in 2005 to 1,509 in 2006.

'However, we certainly need greater concerted and cooperative efforts between the states, inter se, as well as between the centre and the states to achieve more acceptable results,' the home minister said.

'We expect that the motivation and dedication of the state police, coupled with financial and technical support that includes equipment and manpower support from the government of India, along with developmental programmes in Naxal affected areas will have a significant impact on this problem,' Patil added.

Speaking about Jharkhand, Patil said it had been provided Rs.1.82 billion in the past six years to modernise its police force. During the current year, the state would also receive a special grant of Rs.150 million for purchasing weapons as well as de-mining and communications equipment.

Also, the state has been provided Rs.200 million under the security related expenditure - scheme, even as Rs.4.5 billion had been released under the backward district initiative - scheme.

The statement, however, failed to cut much ice with the opposition. Brinda Karat - thundered: 'What consolation is all this for Mahto's widow?'

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