Separate NCTC meet
Giving into the pressure of its key ally Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, the Centre has convened a separate meeting on May 5 to exclusively discuss issues concerning the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) that has been held up due to stiff opposition from several states. The Union home ministry will draft standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the NCTC and share it with CMs ahead of the meeting, clarifying the proposed functioning of the anti-terror body through the mechanism of Standing Council, which will have adequate representation from all states. Earlier, the Centre was supposed to discuss the NCTC in the ‘internal security’ meeting of CMs as one of the agenda points on April 16. The move was, however, opposed by Banerjee, who last week wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding a stand-alone meeting to discuss the proposed anti-terror body. She had pointed out that the focus of the NCTC, a sensitive issue, would be lost if it were to be discussed along with other internal security matters, and demanded a separate meeting so that all states could air their views properly. Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi too wrote to the PM, demanding exclusive meeting of CMs to discuss the anti-terror body. “Following the requests of three chief ministers, the Prime Minister has asked me to convey to the chief ministers that a separate meeting on NCTC can be held on May 5. I have written to all chief minister and I hope that they will all confirm their participation,” home minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday. He said the April 16 meeting of the CMs will discuss issues referred on the agenda that was already circulated, while the May 5 meeting will primarily discuss the NCTC. The NCTC was notified by the Centre on February 3 but could it not be operationalized from March 1, as scheduled, due to stiff resistance from more than a dozen non-Congress CMs who expressed that the powers (of arrest, search and seizures) — given to the anti-terror body — would infringe upon states’ rights. Addressing a press conference, Chidambaram said he was confident that given the kind of situation in which many countries in the world, including India, faces, the CMs would respond positively.