M A I N   N E W S

NCTC back on drawing board
LOGJAM PERSISTS: Oppn CMs, UPA allies don’t budge n Cong CMs too raise doubts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
A day-long debate on the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) remained inconclusive after steadfast opposition from Chief Ministers, including those from the Congress, UPA allies, the BJP and those of regional parties.

The opposition to it in the present form leaves the Union Government with no option but to go back to the drawing board to re-draft the NCTC, probably give it a new name. It will have to prune some powers of the proposed body and, in all possibilities, remove it from the ambit of the Intelligence Bureau.

Two key sticking issues emerged after the meeting. One, that the anti-terror body should not be under the control of Intelligence Bureau (IB). Two, the counter-terror body - in whatever shape it is formed - should not carry out independent operations in states.

The NCTC, an anti-terror body proposed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on February 3, is not acceptable to chief ministers in its present form. This emerged following a special meeting of chief ministers here today.

The states which did not agree on the NCTC in its present form include a couple of Congress-ruled states, all BJP-ruled states and the states ruled by regional parties like the Akali Dal in Punjab, the National Conference (J and K), the Trinamool Congress (West Bengal), the Biju Janata Dal (Odisha) and the AIADMK (TN). Many chief ministers questioned the logic of putting the NCTC under the IB. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram later replied, “We will examine if the NCTC should be under the IB (or not)” hinting that it could be a standalone body. “Having the operations wing of the counter-terrorism body under the NIA is an option that can be explored”, he said.

The Home Minister clarified that putting the NCTC under the IB was not his decision. “If you go by original plan, revealed in December 2009, the NCTC was not located under the IB. However, the government felt that the IB was designated as the nodal body for counter-terrorism operations in 2001. Hence, the NCTC should be under it”.

Going by the Home Minister’s words, the future of the NCTC looks bleak. “I do not know whether it will be NCTC or some other body. Whether it will have the same powers or some other powers”

The degree of opposition to the NCTC also varied at the meeting. Some states supported it in totality, while those ruled by the BJP opposed it in its present form.

The Chief Minister of West Bengal, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu vehemently opposed any such nodal body under the Centre's control.

Even Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh — both of the Congress — wanted certain safeguards to be incorporated. While Gogoi wanted that the NCTC should only do "joint operations" with the state government, Ibobi Singh wanted sharing of intelligence.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha wanted a sub-committee of CMs to go through the details of counter-terrorism body. The example cited by Punjab that it battled militancy on its own did not cut ice at the meeting. It was felt that Punjab militancy was largely restricted to the state and did not have a Pan-India footprint.

Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah favoured joint operations. Chidambaram, however, put up a brave face saying, "There was strong support. There was qualified support and opposition by three states," adding "I am willing to examine all inputs of the states".

Dissenting notes
Narendra Modi I would urge the Government of India not to make it a prestige issue, accept the demands of the states and drop the proposal to set up the NCTC

Narendra Modi, Gujarat CM
Omar AbdullahThe provision in the NCTC of handing over arrested persons and seized material to the police makes it as stringent as the AFSPA

Omar Abdullah, J&K CM
PS BadalIt appears the Centre has very systematically taken a series of decisions to take away the powers of the states under one pretext or the other

PS Badal, Punjab CM
Naveen PatnaikThere's need for an organisation at the Central level to tackle terror. However, the NCTC in its present form is simply not acceptable

Naveen Patnaik, Odisha CM
Tarun GogoiI do support it (NCTC) but with with some amendments . There should be joint operations. The NCTC can’t act as super police in states

Tarun Gogoi, Assam CM





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