NCTC meet on May 5 crucial for UPA

   Apr 18, 3:36 pm

New Delhi, Apr 18 (ANI): The National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) meet scheduled to take place on May 5 will be a litmus test for the UPA Government at the Centre, as some non-Congress Chief Ministers continue to oppose the provisions in the counter-terror body, contending that it will upset the federal structure and encroach on the powers of the states.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has strongly emphasized on the need for Centre and the respective state governments to work in coordination on matters concerning internal security of the country.

Addressing a Chief Ministers' conference on internal security here on Monday, Dr. Singh said: "The threats faced by India today include terrorism, extremism, Naxalism and communal violence. These issues must be tackled firmly, but with sensitivity."

"The forces behind them should not only be contained but also effectively rolled back and is an endeavor that requires an united effort by the Centre and states. Internal security is a matter where States and Centre must work hand in hand," he added.

Reiterating the Centre's efforts towards improving capacity building in the police forces so that they can better combat the threats facing India's internal security, Dr. Singh said it is important for the government to find ways and means to improve the quality of personnel and called upon the Chief Ministers to come up with viable suggestions to do this.

Echoing similar sentiments, Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said the Centre is willing to support steps taken by the various State Governments.

In his concluding remarks at the Chief Ministers' Conference, Chidambaram said: "If you will accept responsibility for border management, we can step back; if you will accept greater responsibility for fighting the Naxals in the Naxal affected districts, we are willing to step back. So every responsibility that the state government will take, we are willing to step back but, in the meanwhile, until capacity is built, we have to work together."

"We have to provide money; we have to provide the men and the women; we have to provide the equipment; and we have to provide the co-ordination. That is what we are doing, but I am confident, we are bound by the Constitution; we are bound by the promises that we had made to our people; we are obliged to work together and if we work together, we can make this country safe and secure," he added.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had reservations and said that the Centre neither trusted the states nor showed them respect while taking security-related decisions.

The three chief ministers also met separately on Monday after the conference of the Chief Ministers.

Modi said unilateral decisions like the one to create a NCTC was "fuelling mistrust between the Centre and the states".

Asserting that there should be a trust between the Centre and the state governments on security, Modi said: " Unilateral decisions by the Centre must stop."

Modi also questioned the Central Government on why the recommendations of chief ministers had not been included in the Action Taken Report on 'internal security'.

Patnaik had said the Centre should take the various state governments into confidence as they decide to set up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

"About the NCTC (National Counter Terrorism Centre), all of you know, all of us know, this is a matter of urgent public importance as it affects the security of our own country, of India," said Patnaik.

"I hope that this issue about the federal rights of all the states of our country, which certainly includes Orissa as well, will be done, these new acts that the union government, the central government brings out. They must be done in consultation with the state governments," he added.

The Union Home Minister, however, said yesterday that he was confident that the meeting called by the Centre would resolve the differences between some states and the Central Government on the issue.

Moreover, the formation of the NCTC has also not gone well with UPA's ally, the Trinamool Congress. This was quite evident from the absence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during the Chief Ministers' conference on internal security.

The main task of the NCTC would be to ensure that a wide variety of security organizations in the country work in tandem, at least on issues related to terrorism.

It will also have the power to seek information, including documents, reports, transcripts, and cyber information from any agency, including from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency, National Technical Research Organization, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and all seven central armed police forces including the National Security Guard (NSG).

The body, which will function under the Intelligence Bureau, would be given its own operational wing with powers to arrest and conduct searches under Section 43A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. (ANI)

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