Ahead of the Chief Ministers' meeting here on May 5 on the proposed National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said such a centre would have helped in dealing with the recent hostage situations.
At his monthly review conference, Mr. Chidambaram told journalists that he did not know if the proposed anti-terror body would come up or not but if it did, it should be allowed to build capacity and lay out its own standard operating procedures (SOPs) and gain experience.
“Yes, I think in the medium to long term, an NCTC would help us deal with such a situation in a better way,” he said.
The Home Minister was replying to a question on whether the NCTC would have been of some help to the government in dealing with the hostage situations — such as the abduction of Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon in Chhattisgarh and the two others in Odisha.
Most of the non-Congress Chief Ministers, including Odisha's Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu's Jayalalithaa, and UPA ally and West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, have opposed the creation of the NCTC, apprehending that the powers to be vested with the centre would violate the federal structure of the country and encroach upon States' powers.
The Home Minister said the draft of the two SOPs for the NCTC had been circulated to the States and hoped that it would allay many apprehensions of the Chief Ministers.
“I believe when the Chief Ministers will read the SOPs, much of the doubts will be dissolved and at the [May 5] meeting, if they have any suggestion on the SOPs, we are willing to listen and incorporate as many as possible,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
He said the Centre would make it clear that fighting terrorism was the shared responsibility of both the Central and State governments.
Asked whether the Centre was considering the framing of a hostage policy to deal with Maoists, he said the government must think about this when it was not facing an actual hostage situation.
On the Sukma Collector's abduction and efforts to free him through interlocutors, Mr. Chidambaram said he was in regular touch with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh while Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh was in touch with the State Chief Secretary and the DGP and the Central government was fully abreast of the developments.
“I am happy to know that the Collector is safe and the medicines have reached him. We have offered help,” he added, brushing aside suggestions that the Centre was not coordinating with the State government.
“We are available for consultation. It is for the State government to handle the situation. And if they ask for assistance we are ready to help,” he said.
On the nomination of cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to the House of Elders, he said the nomination was “perfectly valid” under the provisions of the Constitution.
To a question about doubts being raised by some Constitutional experts on Mr. Tendulkar's nomination to the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Chidambaram said: “That is not our reading of the Constitution provision. I think the provision is very clear and I urge all of you to read it once again.”