“The way things are evolving with the creation of the NIA and NCTC… we seem to be headed towards an autocracy consisting of a government of the Centre, by the Centre, for the Centre,” the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister told a meeting of CMs on the proposed counter-terror body.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, while urging the Central government to keep the notification on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in abeyance, wanted it to stop advising the State governments on “principles of administration”.
Apart from endorsing the views of Chief Ministers, such as Narendra Modi, on the “growing distrust” between the Centre and the States, she even chastised the Centre for some of its proposals alleging that it was “usurping the powers of the States”.
Speaking at the meeting of the Chief Ministers on NCTC in New Delhi on Saturday, she asserted “any discussion on NCTC is infructuous as long as the notification of NCTC is in force”. Apart from suggesting a “total overhaul” of the NCTC, she wanted a smaller sub-committee of Chief Ministers set up in this regard.
Ms. Jayalaithaa had a dig at the Prime Minister also pointing out that a global agency had downgraded credit rating on the Indian economy to ‘negative'. “The time has come for the Government of India to concentrate on setting its own house in order rather than spending time advising the State Governments on principles of administration”, she added.
In a speech which pilloried the Home Ministry, she termed its move to establish an Operations Division of NCTC in the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and also equip its Additional Director with the powers of the Designated Authority under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, “not only irregular but also not reflective of the views of the group of Ministers and the Administrative Reforms Commission”.
She lamented that according to the proposal the NCTC would be dominated only by the IB and the manner in which its staff is sought to be selected would lead to rifts among various intelligence agencies, which is in itself “clearly a regressive step”.
Ms.Jayalalithaa contended intelligence gathering is dependent on the State police networks since many of the Central agencies are unfamiliar with the language, terrorist activities, etc. “Therefore, sharing of intelligence in a co-ordinated fashion is the right way forward”.
Confining the core group selection to the IB personnel and providing a second grade status to other agencies “is going to spell doom and greatly diminish the level of operational capabilities. A caste structure in a counter terrorism outfit with the IB personnel uppermost in the hierarchy is the best recipe for strengthening the hands of terrorists”.
The Chief Minister alleged that the State Governments were not consulted at all before the NCTC was notified and her Government did not even receive a copy of the order. “Such is the casual attitude displayed by the Ministry of Home affairs, which borders on absolute disdain for the Tamil Nadu State Government”.
“If terrorism is to be fought effectively, a nodal mechanism in the States should co-ordinate with the nodal Central agency on matters of counter terrorism”.
She advocated creation of a “Rapid Action Counter Terrorist Force” in every State, which would function under the nodal State Agency. On receipt of information the nodal State agency should activate the appropriate force to organise the operation in the manner best suited. “State Governments should be given liberal financial assistance by the Centre for raising a counter terrorist force fully equipped with modern weapons and training. This would be, in my opinion, the appropriate strategy for counter terrorist operations”.
Apart from opposing the proposed amendment to the BSF Act, she came down heavily on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) saying it is “clearly a case of the Centre usurping the powers of the States”. “The way things are evolving with the creation of the NIA and NCTC and the proposed amendments to the RPF Act the BSF Act, we seem to be headed towards an autocracy consisting of a Government of the Centre, by the Centre, for the Centre”, she observed. She even opined that NIA deserves to be wound up, if it cannot show any results.