Mixed response from north eastern states on NCTC
New Delhi: Mixed response was evoked from the north eastern states on Saturday by the Union Government's proposed NCTC with some of them suggesting riders in it to control misuse of powers and others rejecting the move as "encroachment".
Criticising the Centre, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar expressed his anguished over several steps, including notification of NCTC and proposed amendments to the RPF and BSF Acts, being taken by the Central Government with serious implication on federalism and tantamount to encroachment upon the rights of the States.
"The concern expressed by several state governments on the tendency of the Central Government to invade into the functional domain of state governments must be looked into seriously", he said.
Sarkar strongly opposed the vesting of the National Counter Terrorism Centre with powers to arrest and seize without informing the states.
He warned that "arming an intelligence body, which is not accountable to Parliament or courts, with such powers will have undesired consequences which must be considered dispassionately".
The chief minister also said, "even the NCTC of the USA, which is the model for the Indian NCTC, does not have such legal powers of seizure, arrest, etc".
The CM accused the Centre of showing lack of trust on the state governments and ability of the state police by allowing its proposed anti-terrorism wing "to play the pivotal role of tackling the menace of terrorism".
Sarkar said the mandate of NCTC should be limited to only collection, collation and analysis of intelligence by coordinating with various intelligence agencies to avoid misuse or abuse of power.
The Chief Ministers were expressing their views during a especially called meeting on the NCTC by the Centre in the national capital.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma emphasised upon the need for carefully calibrating the roles, responsibilities and powers of the NCTC without adversely affecting the federal character of the Constitution.
The NCTC should be designed to support the efforts of the State Police by collection and dissemination of intelligence, Sangma said.
The Meghalaya CM advised the Centre to make suitable changes to ensure that search and seizure operations are only carried out jointly with the state security forces.
"The organisation should be effective enough to ensure joint planning as well as joint operations, involving the state authorities as well as other stakeholders," he insisted.
However, Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla supported a pan-India institutional mechanism to synergise core competencies in counter terrorism and objective assessment of threats and challenges.
He downplayed the issues raised by various states on giving the power to arrest and seizure and lack of accountability of the proposed anti-terror body saying that the "NCTC will be under the control of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs" and "will be accountable to Parliament".
Criticising those opposing it, Thanhawla said, "I beseech those who opposed NCTC to review their perceptions and urge upon the Government of India to make NCTC operational expeditiously".
Also favouring the proposal, Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh suggested the NCTC officials share intelligence with the state police and carry out joint operations for arresting and detaining any person suspected of indulging in terrorist activities.
"The person arrested be handed over to the nearest police station and interrogated jointly. A similar provision in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 whereby security forces hand over apprehended persons to the state police, has come under severe criticism for misuse and many cases of human rights abuse have been reported", Singh said.
Supporting the Centre for its credible step to neutralise terrorist and anti-national forces from within and outside the country, the Chief Minister said, "representations from all concerned agencies will, we presume, enable it (NCTC) to act in consonance with the federal ethos of our polity".