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Updated: May 5, 2012 10:21 IST

Will meeting address CMs' concerns on NCTC?

Special Correspondent
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Key UPA ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Odisha counterparts feel that the proposed counter-terror body will disturb the federal structure. File photos
Key UPA ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Odisha counterparts feel that the proposed counter-terror body will disturb the federal structure. File photos

Non-Congress CMs, including key UPA ally Mamata, feel the anti-terror body will disturb the federal structure

The Chief Ministers' meeting on the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) takes place here on Saturday, amid misgivings by some non-Congress Chief Ministers, including key UPA ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, that the proposed body will disturb the federal structure.

The meeting will have extensive discussions on the pros and cons of setting up the anti-terror body, and is likely to fine-tune the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).

The crucial question is whether the Chief Ministers will be able to get over the ‘Hamletian dilemma' which Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram referred to, while replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. And, similarly, will the Home Minister be able to convince the Chief Ministers that the Centre is working overtime to address their concerns, and will they, in turn, be flexible in their stand when it comes to dealing with issues of terrorism and internal security in a vast country like India?

With the Home Ministry already making State police chiefs and chiefs of Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS), in SOPs already circulated to the States, active stakeholders in the Standing Council of the NCTC, the Chief Ministers are likely to express their views on how the proposed body will coordinate and operate, while undertaking counter-terror operations.

The anti-terror body, which was to come into existence on March 1, was kept on hold because of objections raised by the Chief Ministers.

On its part, and ahead of Saturday's meeting, the Home Ministry has assured the States that “in normal course, arrest/search/seizure shall be carried out by the ATS or police units of the State concerned.” Proposals like this one will be up for discussion during the meeting of the Chief Ministers, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, specifying the approach of the UPA government, and addressing the concerns of the Chief Ministers.

In February, non-Congress CMs had written to him, urging him to put the NCTC on hold till all their concerns were addressed through wide-ranging consultations. The Prime Minister, in turn, had asked the Home Minister to write to the Chief Ministers, in a bid to assure them.

If Mr. Chidambaram's comments in the Lok Sabha are any indication, he would stress the shared responsibility of the Centre and the States in dealing with crucial issues of internal security and terrorism.

“What I am trying to say is that this Hamletian dilemma must be done away with. Remember the famous words of Hamlet – ‘To be or not to be.' What do we want to be? I say this with greatest respect that in this troubled neighbourhood, in the year 2012, internal security of this country is a shared responsibility. We are willing to accept our share. The States must come forward to accept their share,” he had told MPs.

Dwelling upon the Constitutional provisions, Mr. Chidambaram said that in List II, law and order and public order are the responsibility of the State governments. In Article 355, it is the responsibility of the Central Government to protect every State against external aggression and internal threat.

He also referred to Section 2 (e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, made in 2004, that introduced “designated agency.” The UAPA Act was amended in December 2008, and the Lok Sabha added Section 43 (a) to 43 (f). Section 43 (a) refers to designated agency, saying “designated agency may, under certain circumstances, counter terrorism, arrest and seize articles.”

He reiterated that the “moment you arrest, you must hand them over to the nearest police station. This is a law made by Parliament,” wondering how it amounted to encroaching upon the State's powers.

“What power am I encroaching upon? In a counter-terrorism situation, when a counter-terrorism operation is undertaken, the first police officer there would have to arrest, and the very next Section says when you arrest, you will hand him over to the nearest police station, and the Station House Officer will then take over the case. Please tell me, where is the encroachment in State's powers?” Mr. Chidambaram argued.

Will his forceful arguments be able to convince the Chief Ministers? They would want a seamless coordination between the NCTC and the State police when the proposed body undertakes anti-terror operations.

Intelligence Bureau

Another objection of the Chief Ministers pertains to the proposed NCTC being part of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is controlled by the Home Ministry. Some of the Chief Ministers have suggested giving an independent status to it.

A senior Home Ministry official said the controversy was sought to be projected as a row between the Centre and the States. “As the Home Minister has said, maintenance of internal security, violence and terrorism are a shared responsibility of the Centre and the States. We will have to find ways to handle these issues together, while protecting the national interest,” he said.

Some of the fiercest critics of the NCTC are Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. They have argued that since law and order happens to be a State subject, a body like the NCTC shouldn't be given wide powers to search, seize and arrest anyone from the States. They would want prior intimation and authorisation for anti-terror operations in the States, giving them a crucial say in such operations.

Although the NCTC will work as an “integral” part of IB, and its director will report to the IB chief, the Home Minister and the Home Secretary, it is proposed to give it a sharp counter-terrorism focus, like similar specialised bodies in some countries like the U.S., the U.K., Germany, France, Israel, Russia and China.

The NCTC's function will include drawing up of plans and coordinating all actions and integrating all intelligence pertaining to counter-terrorism. It will coordinate with relevant investigation and intelligence agencies to make sure that the perpetrators of terror are brought to justice, besides maintaining a comprehensive database of terrorists, their associates and supporters.

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Dirty Politics are played by all parties, Congress and BJP two premier parties have miserably failed.Added to that we have innumerable regional parties with out any specific National Goals. They play based on local politics and regional priorities.The Fathers of Indian constitution perhaps never thought of this sort of fragmentation and personality based Poltics.We call ourselves a Union of States and a sort of Federal set up. India is not going to have a single party majority at the Central and it will have only a socalled alliance with out any commitments from Junior parties. The same is going to happen at the state levels also.So the major National parties like, Congress,BJP, and left parties have to come to broader understandings in the national issues like, Terrorism,Economic policies, Hostage,Corruption, Unaccounted money in Swiss Banks,Kashmir,and Social issues.Nation should come first and not personalities and petty politics.Does India will rise to the occasion?

from:  Narayanan Krishnan
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 11:41 IST

Very good decission. As said in above article, In Article 355, it is the responsibility of the Central Government to protect every state against external aggression and internal threat. it will be possible only when state Government supports central. I think that, It will be success when both State and Central Govt work together..

from:  Sairam
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 10:54 IST

As an aside, it's interesting to note that all the 4 Chief Minister's who've been featured here are middle aged and single. It makes one wonder two things,
(i) Is the demand of everyday politics such that the correlation of highly successful regional politicians with that of the population in terms of marital status, very very low.
(ii) Will (i) over the long term act as a natural counter-weight to
dynastic politics?

from:  Neel
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 10:33 IST

The need of the hour is a strong centre with more powers to save the country and preserve national integrity from secessional forces and terrorism in the disguise of “regional aspirations” which is not in threat as portraited. The corruption levels in the states are very high at every nook and corner. Creating an anti centre mood among the people will do more harm than the good. The federal structure will only be strengthened by having a strong centre. After all, the central government is not an imposed foreign government. It is an elected government by the people of the nation as a whole keeping the larger interest in mind.

from:  Pragasam
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 09:53 IST

In the US the federal government can't dismiss a state government
here in India we have seen the home ministry misuse the CBI to attack state chief ministers, hence I am highly sceptical.
At no point should the powers of the state be comprimised. A human rights official must be present through the interrogation process prior intimation and authorisation for anti-terror operations in the States, giving the chief ministers a crucial say in such operations, is an absolute must.The NCTC should report to a 3 member council consisting of the IB chief, a sitting supreme court judge and the chair person of the national humanrights commission
This way no hanky panky can go on, a sitting judge will ensure protection of the states and that constitutional law is upheld. the human rights commissioner will ensure that no human rights abuses take place. If there is an objection from the home ministry to having the NCTC report to a 3 member commision rather than the IB chief alone ,then that is ominous.

from:  rajeev
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 09:50 IST

It may be recalled that "26/11/2008"made everyone feel the urgent
need for a NCTC!The Centre studied the "NCTC of USA" and United
Kingdom's "Joint Terorism Analysis Centre",in depth, and prepared a
draft for NCTC to be made operational on March 1st,2012.Some CMs
obsessed with antideluvian notions about "federalism"jumped to
oppose it!"Federalism favours creation of a strong, centralised,
National Government!The several states join to form a strong"Union
of States"!The UNION,like the hen, protects her chicks from external
terrors!How,then, the mother hen trample on her young ones?Onesenior
Opposition leader says,"You cannot'sacrifice federalism',while
combating terrorism!NCTC,on the otherhand,is designed to "sustain"
federalism rather than sacrifice it!
DGs of Police of all states and Chiefs of Antiterror Squads of all states will be the members of the Standing Council of NCTC!Further, before the NCTC starts an operation in a state, the said officers of that state woul be informed first!

from:  Netrikkannyayman
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 08:19 IST

I am sure that no state will ever harbour terrorists or anti-nationals.
I only wish that all state chiefs consider nation above state when it comes to national security. The current lack of faith between Center and State is because of the general tendency of ruling party to harass and unnecesarily trouble the oppositin party and their cadres. This is true of Centre as well as States in power. Everything cannot be corrected by enacting new laws. Enforcement of existing laws must be tightened. Enactment new stringent laws against terrorists and anti-nationals should not be obstructed just because it is brought by a party or person you do not like.

from:  Ramani P
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 08:07 IST

Our honourable Home minister P.Chidmarabam is talking about encroachment of stats power and assuring states power and federal structure would remain entact.Once thing which is comes in my mind that we allredy have a investigation agency NIA which is working superb with cordination of states and centre.why not chidamarabam sir propose to make NIA more powerful,more technical proof and skilled to handle anti terrorism instead of creating a new agency.

from:  gautam kumar
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 06:01 IST

The opposition to the NCTC is politically motivated as there isn't any substance in the aruments of the opponents. As explained in the above report the provisions in the constitution already exist under which Centre can directly intervene in situations related to national security so what is the fuss about ? The naked truth is this that some of regional parties are soft on anti national forces and Maoists. There are lot of arguments in favour of NCTC but probelm is insincerity and predetermination of the opponents.The fear that it would be misused like CBI is also baseless as terrorism is totally different beast as compared to scams or scandals.Centre must put its foot down and enact NCTC.

from:  Sheetal
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 04:18 IST

NCTC is not going to de stabilize the federal structure. In- fact state level corruption and failures on good governances are the major threat to the federal structure. Moreover, internal elements and the hardcore criminals are posing major challenges to an internal security.

from:  Stanly.MJ
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 01:46 IST
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