Lok Sabha passes bill to strengthen anti-terror agency NIA

A law to strengthen the anti-terror National Investigation Agency (NIA) by empowering it to investigate attacks against Indians abroad was passed in the Lok Sabha after intense sparring between the government and opposition.

Home Minister Amit Shah, refuting opposition concerns about the “misuse” of the NIA (Amendment) Bill, 2019, asserted that the government would never misuse it on the basis of religion. Instead, he said, the government would ensure that terrorism is finished off irrespective of the religion of the accused. Insisting on a division of votes, Amit Shah said: “The nation must see who supports terrorists”.

Seeking all-party support for the proposed law, Amit Shah said a division in the House would send out a wrong message and boost the morale of terrorists. Several opposition leaders had earlier criticised the bill and accused the government of using investigating agencies for “political vendetta”. The Congress said the amended law would give sweeping powers to the NIA and was an attempt to create a police state.

The amendments to the NIA law will also enable the agency to investigate human trafficking, cyber terrorism, manufacture and sale of prohibited weapons and re-designate trial courts as special courts to speed up cases.