New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday stressed that the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) was not a state versus Centre issue, saying there was a need to fight terrorism together.
“It is not the government’s intention to affect distribution of powers between states and the Union,” PM Singh told a meeting of the chief ministers on the NCTC here.
“The setting up of NCTC is aimed to coordinate counter-terror efforts throughout this vast country,” Singh told CMs, describing terrorism as one of the most potent threats to national security.
Saying he expects support from states on the issue, the PM said the anti-terror agency should be a vehicle of combined efforts to curb terror and eradicate militancy.
He however added that “for operationalisation of NCTC, it is fairly important to have broad consensus on its powers and functions”.
“NCTC will supplement counter-terrorism capabilities of states not supplant them,” the PM said.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram meanwhile called on the states to support the proposed NCTC, stressing there was a need to strengthen the fight against terrorism.
Chidambaram told the CM’s meet that a demand was made to strengthen the anti-terror operations post the ghastly Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008.
A call for setting up a unified agency against terror was made after 26/11 attacks, he noted.
Justifies the setting up of NCTC, the Home Minister said the agency will be an important pillar of security infrastructure.
Chidambaram stressed that counter-terrorism was a shared responsibility of the states and the Centre.
“Terrorists do not recognise boundaries between states,” he stressed.
He described joint efforts as the only practical and prudent way forward.
Chidambaram mentioned cyber crime to stress on the fact that terrorists act without boundaries.
Describing technology as key weapon against terror, the minister said state agencies will have to work with national agencies.
“Cyber crimes would in certain circumstances amount to terror threat,” he told the conference.
“The battle against terror can succeed if we fight it together,” he added.
Today’s meet comes amid an unending deadlock over the anti-terror intelligence hub.
The PM and the Home Minister, in the daylong meeting, will try to bring all chief ministers on board and address their fears that the NCTC, which has been put on hold, will erode powers of states.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is among the front-runners to oppose the anti-terror agency despite being a ruling partner of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has stuck to her stand against NCTC`s controversial powers of search, seizure and arrest.
"It (the meeting) will discuss issues related to strengthening of counter terrorism capabilities and the NCTC. Various concerns raised by the state governments on the NCTC will also be taken up and allayed at the day-long deliberations," a Home Ministry spokesperson had said earlier.
The chief ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-ruled states have also raised their voice to thwart the Central government`s move to create a one-stop anti-terror intelligence agency that has powers to conduct operations and make arrests anywhere in the country.
Today’s meeting will have extensive discussions on the setting up of the NCTC during which the standard operating procedures (SOP) of the agency would also be revisited, according to Home Ministry sources.
Hoping for a degree of consensus, the Central government has already agreed to dilute some of its discretionary powers.
The government had already circulated a note to chief ministers saying it had decided to have state police chiefs as ex-officio members of the standing council of the NCTC, laying down a six-point SOP agenda according to which the power to arrest, search and seize will be shared with heads of the anti-terrorism squads of states.
(With IANS inputs)