M A I N   N E W S

On NCTC, Centre terms states’ concerns reasonable
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Sticking points

  • States do not want words like “prescribed” and “mandated” to describe the NCTC’s role. They say these amount to the Centre dictating terms to states
  • Specific circumstances in which Section 43-A of the UAPA (the power to arrest) can be invoked should be spelt out

New Delhi, March 12
The Centre and state governments today got down to sorting out the imbroglio over the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) after days of vocal opposition to the anti-terror hub in its present form. There were indications of a forward movement after a meeting in the National Capital today.

At a daylong meeting of Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries and DGPs of all states convened by Union Home Secretary RK Singh, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) spokesperson Ira Joshi said: “Almost all states agreed in principle on the need to have an effective anti-terrorism mechanism like the NCTC.”

The points of contention raised by the states were “very reasonable and are doable”, a well-placed Home Ministry source said, adding that these were small adjustments. The Centre is also learnt to have assured the states that “their concerns had been noted and would be suitably addressed”.

The next hurdle for the NCTC would be the meeting of state Chief Ministers on April 16. Some 14 of these CMs had opposed the anti-terror hub in its present form maintaining that it would hurt the country’s federal structure. In fact, the Centre had put on hold the operationalisation of the NCTC from March 1 following strong protests by non-Congress CMs.

What’s next

  • Feb 3 order to establish the NCTC to be reworked to address states’ concerns
  • It is expected to include a detailed list of powers, functions and duties of the NCTC Standing Council
  • Matter to come up in internal security meeting of CMs on April 16

The counter-terror centre order, originally issued by the Home Ministry on February 3, will now be reworked and re-worded to address the concerns of the states. It is expected to include a detailed list of powers, functions and duties of the Standing Council of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, a body that will have anti-terror squad (ATS) chiefs of all states besides the three directors of National Counter Terrorism Centre.

The reworked order will also specify the circumstances in which Section 43-A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) can be invoked. So far, the proposed NCTC’s operational wing has the powers to arrest a person under Section 43-A.

At today’s meeting, a majority of states opposed this very power of the NCTC. They pitched for joint operations of the NCTC and state police forces with complete information sharing. Representatives of the states, especially those ruled by non-Congress governments, ruled out any possibility of allowing the National Counter Terrorism Centre to act suo motu in their territories.

Home Ministry sources said the demands of the states for joint operational teams were okay. There was no discussion on prior permission of states to conduct counter-terrorism operations, but sharing of information will have to be done, sources said.

Police officials of some Congress states were also votaries of joint operations, said officials. “These officials have seen operations from close quarters and their views have to be incorporated,” Home Ministry sources said.

States also wanted that the National Counter Terrorism Centre be made equally obliged to respond to their requests and expressed that the Central Government must provide resources (money and equipment) to upgrade capabilities.





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