Chidambaram on NCTC
Union home minister P Chidambaram reached out to 10 chief ministers, saying the government would not operationalize the National Counter-Terrorism Centre before consulting the directors general of police and heads of anti-terror wings in the states. Chidambaram argued that the NCTC would have “bare minimum powers” essential for any counter-terror body to have “operational capability” in “certain circumstances”. The states, however, appeared unmoved. There are also indications that chief ministers are not impressed by the idea of being kept out of consultations on an issue which concerned the division of responsibilities between the Centre and states as laid down in the Constitution. Chidambaram also enclosed a three-page note with his letter to the non-Congress chief ministers, explaining finer points of the existing law-Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act - from which the NCTC draws its power to make arrest and conduct search and seizure. Requesting the chief ministers “to carefully consider the note”, he said, “Before we take the next steps, I have asked the home secretary to call a meeting of directors general of police and the headsof anti-terror organizations/forces of the state governments and discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC.” The home minister, at the same time, reminded the chief ministers that the matter (countering terror) was of national importance and should be kept above “parties and politics”. “All of us are agreed that terrorism is a grave threat to our country and our way to life. Countering terrorism is, therefore, a shared responsibility,” he said in his letters to the chief ministers including West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee), Gujarat (Narendra Modi) and Tamil Nadu (J Jayalalitha). Though he has not specified any date for this meeting, indications are that the ministry will try to do the consultation before March 1-the day when NCTC is scheduled to get operational.