Fighting terror and violence is a shared responsibility, he asserts
While asserting that fighting terror and violence is a shared responsibility of the Centre and the States, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday sought to allay the fears of States that the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) would encroach upon their rights.
His comments in the Lok Sabha came ahead of the May 5 meeting of the Chief Ministers on the controversial counter-terror hub. Almost all non-Congress Chief Ministers are opposing creation of the NCTC on the ground that it would violate principles of federal structure.
During his 50-minute reply to a five-hour debate on the demand for grants for the Home Ministry for 2012-13, Mr. Chidambaram renewed his offer of talks to Maoists, provided they abjured violence during the period of negotiations. He also dwelt on the Telangana issue, who had often led to uproar in the Lok Sabha.
The Minister questioned the opposition to the amendment to the BSF Act, saying it gave the Central paramilitary force no additional powers but was only aimed at regularising deployment in States which was not provided under the original law.
“Dealing with violence and terrorism is the shared responsibility. While we are willing to share our responsibility, we want States to share their responsibility,” he said.
Referring to the NCTC, Mr. Chidambaram said it was an offshoot of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that was debated and passed by Parliament in 2004 and amended in 2008.
“I am accused of encroaching upon powers of the States. What power am I encroaching upon? ... [Under the NCTC], the designated agency, during counter-terrorism operation, may arrest an accused, make seizure and hand [him] over to the nearest police station immediately. Thereafter the SHO will take over the investigation.” Mr. Chidambaram was referring to the UAPA provision 43(A), which empowered the designated agency to make arrests and search and seizure. This was being opposed by the States.
“You should have accused me of tardy progress and delay and asked me what I was doing for [the] last three years. But you are accusing me of encroaching upon your powers.”
Another offer to Maoists
Reiterating the offer of talks to the CPI (Maoists), Mr. Chidambaram asked: “Should there be violence when we hold talks?” So far there had not been any response but he was willing to make the offer once again. The Chief Ministers of Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Odisha had also made the offer of talks but did not receive any response from the Maoists, Mr. Chidambaram said.
Referring to the Integrated Action Plan, under which development projects had been undertaken in 60 districts affected by Naxal violence, he said so far Rs. 3,300 crore was spent on completion of 66,000 works.
“CPI (Maoists) don't want roads and school buildings to be built because roads will open up the hinterland and schools will impart education. That's why they target construction companies and indulge in extortion from mining companies.”
Mr. Chidambaram said the Maoists wanted to overthrow parliamentary democracy through an armed rebellion. “They say that power must be seized through [the] barrel of a gun. I ask this House, is this negotiable?
Referring to terror networks in India's “troubled” neighbourhood, the Minister said 80 per cent of terror incidents had occurred in Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. “Terror organisations like the al-Qaeda, LeT, HuJI and Taliban have their bases in these countries,” he said.
“To assume that we will not be affected is not a correct assumption. We have to make our country more secure. Every country is vulnerable today. India is no more vulnerable and is no less vulnerable than [are] other countries.”
BJP seeks White Paper
Earlier, the BJP attacked the government for not doing enough to effectively deal with terrorism and Naxalism, accusing the UPA government of turning India into a “soft” state.
Initiating the discussion, the BJP's Anurag Thakur demanded a White Paper on the government's initiative to deal with Naxalism, which had become a big threat to the nation.
Later, the demand for grants was passed by voice vote after all cut motions were negated together.