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Oppn, allies slam NCTC ahead of May 5 meeting
Chidambaram stands firm, says internal security joint responsibility
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, May 2
The Opposition and UPA allies today struck a discordant note in the Lok Sabha over establishment of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) but the government stood its ground, saying internal security was a shared responsibility and states needed to come forward to do their bit.

“In this troubled neighbourhood in 2012, internal security is a shared responsibility. We are willing to share ours. States must come forward to share theirs,” Home Minister P Chidambaram said, replying to a six-hour debate on the Demands for Grants for 2012-13 of the Ministry of Home.

Chidambaram was speaking after UPA allies Samajwadi Party, BSP and the Trinamool Congress joined the Opposition BJP and Left to dismiss the NCTC move, saying it was a violation of the Constitution’s federal structure. The Centre has called a meeting of Chief Ministers on May 5 to thrash out a consensus on the move.

Today, even Congress ally, the NCP, demanded clarifications on the structure of the body. NCP member and party chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule told the Home Minister, “We hope the government will accept responsibility for any consequences if it wants the authority to counter terror strikes with NCTC. The Home Minister will hopefully clarify this issue on May 5.”

BJP’s Anurag Thakur, BJD’s Pinaki Mishra and Left Party members earlier rejected the concept as anti-federal.

The Home Minister, however, countered their fears, saying the NCTC was not anti-federal and that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) passed by the Lok Sabha in 2008 already introduced the concept of a designated agency.

“The UAPA stated that under certain circumstances the designated agency would have the power to arrest and seize. This House passed the law in 2008. If at all, I should be accused of delaying the establishment of NCTC,” said the minister, adding that even in the NCTC, the designated agency would have the power to arrest and seize only during a counter insurgency operation.

“The designated agency would then deposit the seizure and declare the arrest at the nearest police station that would take over the case,” Chidambaram explained. Ahead of the CMs’ meet, he drew the attention of states to the Constitution.

“The same Constitution which in List 2 says law and public order are state subjects also, gives the Centre the responsibility of protecting states against external aggression and internal disturbances in Article 355. Terrorism and militancy are our shared responsibilities and we must remember that,” he said after BJP’s Anurag Thakur opened the debate at 2 pm and questioned the relevance of NCTC when the National Investigation Agency set up after the 26/11 attacks had not made much headway.

Chidambaram dismissed Thakur’s apprehensions saying the NIA had the best track record among new organisations and had registered 40 cases. “The NIA does not discriminate on the basis of faith. It has registered 12 cases against jihadi terrorists and nine against Right-wing fundamentalists,” he said.





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