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Crucial meet on NCTC fails; non-Cong states dump it

Source: PTI
March 12, 2012 12:17 IST
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Non-Congress states on Monday opposed formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, saying that it will infringe upon the duties of the state police forces.

Representatives from Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Bihar voiced their concern at the high-level meeting chaired by Home Secretary R K Singh in which state chief secretaries, home secretaries and police chiefs were present.

Sources attending the meeting said that the states were opposing the formation of the NCTC on the ground that the role of state police would be minimised in counter-terror operations.

They said the representatives of the states opposed the move, saying that the Intelligence Bureau was already performing the job and there was no need to give power of arrest as proposed in the new counter-terror unit.

Chiefs of anti-terror units were also present at the meeting.

Over a dozen chief ministers have opposed the creation of the NCTC, maintaining that it would hurt the federal structure of the country.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha have asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene a meeting of chief ministers to discuss the issue.

In the wake of strong protests by non-Congress chief ministers, the Centre has put on hold the operationalisation of the NCTC from March 1 and has decided to discuss the issue with the state governments.

In a letter to 10 chief ministers, Home Minister P Chidambaram has assured them that the "next steps" on the NCTC would be taken only after the meeting of top officials of the states.

The home ministry officials tried to allay the apprehensions of the states, which said empowering the NCTC with Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act would infringe on the states' powers. Section 43(A) of Act gives an officer power to arrest and search.

Chidambaram, in his letter, had said the powers conferred under Section 43 (A) of the 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).

He had also said the SHO of the police station will take further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC.

Patnaik, who had spearheaded the protests on the ground that it would erode the states' powers, in his third letter on the NCTC to the prime minister, had opposed the meeting of officials.

"It is imperative that instead of a meeting chaired by the Union home secretary, an immediate meeting of chief ministers may be called by you to address the concerns of the states on this very urgent matter regarding the security of the nation," he had told the prime minister.

Jayalalithaa and Janata Dal-U, which rules Bihar, had also expressed similar sentiments.

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