West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a host of Chief Ministers in opposing the plan to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), urging the Union government to withdraw the February 3, 2012 order for setting up the body.
Addressing a daylong conference of the Chief Ministers on the issue, she argued that there was no need for it.
The other non-Congress States alleged that the proposal violated the federal structure and demanded drastic changes in it.
Ms. Banerjee maintained that police functions should remain the prerogative of the State as enshrined in the Constitution, and the well-conceived equilibrium of powers and responsibilities between the Centre and the States should not be disturbed under any circumstances.
Demanding that the proposal be rolled back, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said almost all big States had opposed the formation of the NCTC, and even those who endorsed it had certain reservations. “It is high time we re-established the bond of confidence which will be our true shield against the forces of terror.” He urged the Centre to collaborate with all stakeholders and come out with a comprehensive plan for strengthening intelligence capabilities, operational preparedness and synergies.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa demanded that the Centre form a sub-committee of Chief Ministers to look into the issue. Her Odisha counterpart, Naveen Patnaik, endorsed the view and suggested that Ms. Jayalalithaa head the sub-committee.
“The NCTC, as has now been notified, should be kept in abeyance, as already advocated by me in my letter to the Prime Minister…, till the sub-committee of Chief Ministers gives its report. As a matter of fact, any discussion on the NCTC is infructuous as long as the notification… is in force,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.
Mr. Patnaik said the NCTC should not be part of the IB, and all actions should be part of joint operations. He apprehended that the NCTC would assume command in case of a crisis and act unilaterally, without any concern for local sentiments.
Even Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress expressed certain reservations about the plan and extended support to the NCTC proposal only with specific conditions.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the proposal went against the country's federal structure and cited legal problems with the NCTC's provisions. Punjab had suffered huge financial losses owing to terrorism, he said, adding the State police played a key role in dealing with the problem.
In his opening statement, Mr. Chidambaram advocated the setting up of an anti-terror hub, similar to the NCTC, saying terrorists did not recognise boundaries, and the Centre and State governments should work together to make the country safe and secure.
Explaining the rationale behind the NCTC, he said it would be an important pillar of a new security architecture, given that under the Constitution, countering terrorism is a shared responsibility of the Central and State governments, “that terrorists do not recognise boundaries between countries or boundaries between States belonging to a country; that many terrorist organisations have footprints in several countries and have the capacity to commit terrorist acts across borders or boundaries; that human resources alone are not sufficient to counter terrorism; [and] technology is the key weapon in this conflict.”
Highlighting a new dimension of cyberspace in terrorist threats, Mr. Chidambaram said it was the fifth domain after land, sea, air and space.