New Delhi: Breaking his silence over stiff
opposition to his pet project NCTC, Home Minister P
Chidambaram today wrote to 10 non-Congress Chief Ministers,
saying countering terrorism is a shared responsibility and
Centre will continue to work with states to fight the menace.
In identical letters to the Chief Ministers, including
West Bengal`s Mamata Banerjee, Chidambaram said the Union Home
Secretary would convene a meeting of the police chiefs of all
states to discuss in detail the scope and functions of the
National Counter Terrorism Centre, whose setting up was
strongly opposed by them.
"All of us are agreed that terrorism is a grave threat to
our country and our way of life. Countering terrorism is,
therefore, a shared responsibility," he said in his letter to
Chief Ministers of Odisha, Bihar, Gujarat, West Bengal, Tamil
Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh
The Home Minister`s letter came after Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh asked him to address the concerns of the Chief
Ministers who lodged strong protests complaining that the
Central government was going to set up the NCTC without any
consultation with the state governments.
Some of them also complained that the anti-terror body
will hurt the country`s federal structure and infringe on
powers of the state government.
The Home Minister said the intention of the Central
government was to continue to work with the state governments
in order to meet the challenge of terrorism and for this
purpose the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was amended
in 2004 and 2008 through joint efforts.
"I have asked the Home Secretary to call a meeting of the
Directors General of Police and the heads of the Anti-
Terrorists Organisations/Forces of the state governments and
discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC.
Chidambaram said he had been asked by the Prime Minister
to address the concerns expressed by them and to consult with
them on this issue.
"..I am sure, you will agree (it) is a matter of
national importance and should be kept above party politics,"
The Home Minister attached a note along with the letter
where he elaborated the genesis, objectives, structure and
powers of the NCTC and requested the Chief Ministers to
carefully consider it.
In the note, the Home Minister said that a body
mandated to deal with counter terrorism must have, in certain
circumstances, an operational capability which is true of all
counter terrorism bodies in the world.
"When engaged in counter terrorism operations, the
officers must have the power to arrest and the power to search
which are the bare minimum powers that would be necessary," he
Besides, the powers conferred under Section 43(A) of
the UA(P) Act must be read with the duty under Section 43 (B)
to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay
before the nearest police station (which will be under the
state government), and the SHO of the police station will take
further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC,
Section 43 (A) dealing with the powers to arrest and
search is a major irritant for the Chief Ministers as they
believe that it would infringe on the state`s powers.