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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 August, 2004, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
India anti-terror law to be axed
Muslims in Delhi
Critics say that Pota discriminated against Muslims
The Indian cabinet has said it will scrap a controversial anti-terrorism law enacted by the previous government.

The new Congress-led government says the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) had been grossly misused for the past two years, especially against Muslims.

They also argue that the act has been used to settle political scores.

Pota gave the security forces greater powers to arrest and interrogate terrorist suspects. It will now go to parliament to be repealed.


"The cabinet took a major decision today. It is to repeal Pota as per the promise made in the national Common Minimum Programme of the United Progressive Alliance," Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy said.

The government of Atal Behari Vajpayee introduced Pota after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US and the attack on the Indian parliament the following December.

As soon as it came to power, the government of the new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that, while it would repeal Pota, it would not make compromises in the fight against terror.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have frequently criticised the act, describing it as "draconian," and a contravention of basic civil liberties.

Pota broadened the scope of the death penalty and gave prosecuting lawyers more scope to detain and interrogate suspects.

Critics say that, following the religious riots in Gujarat state of 2002, Muslims were unfairly singled out under Pota.

Abolishing Pota is part of what the Mr Singh's government is calling a pledge to "preserve, protect and promote social harmony" in India.

Mr Reddy said a bill to abolish Pota would be introduced by the government after the budget parliamentary session.

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