Centre responsible for protecting all parts of the country from external aggression, says Chidambaram

In the backdrop of opposition from certain States to the Centre's plans to create a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Saturday that internal security was a “shared responsibility” of the Centre and the State governments.

Significantly Mamata Banerjee, one of the Chief Ministers who opposed the NCTC, did not the attend the inauguration of the Regional Hub of the National Security Guard (NSG) at Badu in the State's North 24 Parganas district, where Mr. Chidambaram made his observation.

While her name was initially mentioned in the event's brochure it was subsequently erased.

Although Mr. Chidambaram made no direct reference to the NCTC, he said the Centre, as part of its constitutional obligation, was responsible for protecting all parts of the country from external aggression as well as internal disturbances. “The Constitution ... assigns law and order and police to the State government but also assigns the Central Government the responsibility of protecting every part of India from external aggression and internal disturbance under Article 355,” he said.

He also stressed that the founding fathers of the Constitution in all their prudence “have made national security or internal security a shared responsibility.”

Mr. Chidambaram said “irrespective of the nature of security threats or irrespective of the government in office” in any particular State, the Centre's approach had always been to “work together” with the States.

The Central government made no distinction among States on issues relating to internal security.

The State governments are opposed to the NCTC, with its powers to arrest, interrogate, investigate across the country, on the grounds that it will infringe on the State's powers and rights.

“The government of India is happy to work with State governments. We are working with governments of different political parties and we make no distinction among the political parties,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Referring to the “most troubled States — Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, southern part of Bihar and the Jangalmahal region of West Bengal — where Naxalism remains a concern,” Mr. Chidambaram said these States were not “ruled by the Congress, the party to which I belong.” “But as a member of the Central government I have the responsibility to work with the States and give all the assistance they require to quell any militancy or rebellion,” he added.

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