‘I have asked Home Minister to allay fears of Chief Ministers’
Within days of non-Congress Chief Ministers flaying the Centre's move to set up a counter-terror hub, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to seven of them, explaining that the primary purpose of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), located within the Intelligence Bureau (IB), was to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country.
Seeking to allay the apprehensions of the Chief Ministers on encroachment of the States' rights and turf, Dr. Singh on Tuesday assured them that in forming the NCTC, it was not the Centre's “intent in any way to affect the basic features of the constitutional provisions and allocation of powers between the States and the Union.”
Apart from the UPA ally, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who wrote to Dr. Singh on February 14, asking him to review and withdraw the February 3 NCTC order, Naveen Patnaik from Odisha, Nitish Kumar from Bihar and Jayalalithaa from Tamil Nadu joined the anti-NCTC chorus.
The Chief Ministers apprehended that the NCTC, to be made operational from March 1, will infringe upon the powers and rights of the States. The decision should have been taken only after adequate consultation and with the consent of the State governments.
Pointing out that the primary purpose of the NCTC was to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country, as the IB had been doing so far, the Prime Minister stressed that it was for “this reason that the NCTC has been located within the IB and not as a separate organisation.”
However, noting concerns of the Chief Ministers about the manner in which the NCTC would function, Dr. Singh said he had asked Home Minister P. Chidambaram to address them suitably in consultation with them.
The Prime Minister said the idea of such a centre had been under consideration since the Group of Ministers report of 2001 suggested a joint task force on intelligence and the report was accepted by the government of the day. “It was also suggested by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission that a National Centre for Counter-Terrorism be established,” he said in the letter.
(With inputs from B. Muralidhar Reddy)