PM pitches for NCTC amid opposition
New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) In his attempt to dispel fears about NCTC, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday strongly pitched for the one-stop anti-terror intelligence hub whose formation has been withheld due to opposition from many states on grounds that their powers would be eroded.
Chief ministers of non-Congress states fear that the policing power of the states would be clipped by the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).
"It is not our government's intention in any way to affect the distribution of powers between states and the union that our constitution provides," Singh said on the formation of NCTC, a pet project of Home Minister P. Chidambram.
Speaking at the day-long conference, he said the establishment of NCTC "is not a state versus centre issue" because the primary purpose was to "coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout this vast country.
"The NCTC should be a vehicle of our combined efforts to reach the shared goal of curbing terrorism and eradicating militancy... the most potent threat to our national security."
He said neither the states nor the central government can fulfil this task alone.
"The closest cooperation and coordination is therefore necessary to meet the threats that emanate from within and outside our borders.
"It is our belief that the NCTC, in its design and its operational aspects, will supplement the counter-terrorism capabilities of the states and not supplant them," the prime minister said.
Further backing the agency, he said the NCTC will give states an ability to see "the bigger picture of terrorist threats and enhance their counter terrorism capability".
"But for the NCTC to function smoothly and effectively, it is very important that we have a fairly broad consensus on its powers and its functions," he stressed.
He said the central government was open to the suggestions of chief ministers on the formation of the NCTC that was cleared by the cabinet committee on security in January.
The agency was billed as one-stop terror fighting body under the Intelligence Bureau that will create a database of terror suspects and their families.
It will analyse and build threat scenarios and carry out operations anywhere in the country.
Chief ministers of the non-Congress ruled states objected to a central agency being granted powers to arrest in states.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the first to raise the red flag and was joined by West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee.
Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is the second biggest constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance after the Congress.
Banerjee said the NCTC will upset the federal structure of the country and called for its withdrawal.
On Saturday, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi expressed happiness over the changes in the NCTC but maintained that it was an attack on the federal structure.
Modi asked if faith in "constitutional arrangements and center-state relationship in a federal structure" has been lost. This, he said, would be "eroding the capabilities of state police".
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