In a step aimed at strengthening various counter-terrorism measures, the government has decided to operationalise the ambitious National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) from March 1.

A pet project of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, NCTC got the approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) three weeks ago. The operations division of the counter-terrorism body has been given powers to arrest and carry out searches under Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Initially, the NCTC will be located in the Intelligence Bureau and headed by a director, who will be an officer in the rank of additional director, IB. It will have three units - gathering intelligence, analysis of intelligence and carrying out operations - and each of these divisions would be headed by a joint director of Intelligence Bureau.

The NCTC will have the power to requisition services of the elite National Security Guard (NSG), according to the official order. It will integrate intelligence pertaining to terrorism; analyse the same; pursue or mandate other agencies to pursue the different leads; and coordinate with the existing agencies for an effective response.

It will also maintain a comprehensive data base of terrorists and their associates, friends, families, and supporters; of terrorist modules and gangs; and of all information pertaining to terrorists.

“NCTC will prescribe counter-terrorism priorities for each stakeholder and ensure that all agencies have access to and receive source intelligence support that is necessary to execute counter terrorism plans and accomplish their assigned tasks,’’ the order said. It will also prepare daily threat assessment reviews and disseminate them to the appropriate levels in the Central government and to the State governments.

The GoM that reviewed the internal security system in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict had recommended the establishment of a Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) in the Intelligence Bureau, which was set up in 2001 and its functions, powers and duties were prescribed in 2008.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission had in 2008 recommended that MAC should be converted into NCTC with personnel drawn from different intelligence and security agencies. A review of the current architecture of counter terrorism also revealed several gaps and deficiencies and the need was felt for a single of control and coordination of all counter terrorism measures.

“The NCTC will fulfil this need also ensure that it does not duplicate the roles of other agencies and work through the existing agencies in the country,’’ official sources said.

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