Even as it claimed that it would address the concerns of the states on the National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC),the centre today told top officials of state governments to avoid acting as stenographers of their political masters in objecting to this anti-terror body.
At the meeting of chief secretaries,DGPs and other officials of the state governments today,the home ministry conceded that some of the provisions of the NCTC could have been less directorial and offered to rework the language of these offending provisions. The states,on the other hand,agreed on the need for creating an organisation like the NCTC but suggested several changes in the present provisions in order to make it acceptable to everyone.
The main objection as has been made clear by the states earlier too pertains to the powers of NCTC to arrest and search anywhere in the country. The state government officials,particularly those from Bihar,Chhattisgarh,Gujarat and West Bengal,insisted that the NCTC would not be acceptable to them until this power was withdrawn or amended.
It is at this point that Home Secretary R K Singh is learnt to have told them not to be stenographers of their chief ministers whose opposition to the NCTC,he suggested,stemmed from their political affiliations. The Home Ministry denied that such a remark was made but insiders said the Home Secretarys comment invited strong objections from some representatives. Amongst them was Chhattisgarh chief secretary Sunil Kumar who protested against such a lecture from the Centre.
The state officials said they were as concerned about the need to control terror incidents as anyone in the Central government and that such a patronising attitude from the Centre was not acceptable. The meeting saw sharp divisions on political lines as all the non-Congress state governments opposed the NCTC in its present form while the Congress-ruled states said they were agreeable to it.
Some states pointed out that the US,from where the idea of NCTC is borrowed,has a concept of federal crime,which is not the case in India. Officials countered with examples of the NIA or the Narcotics Control Bureau.
The Centre said there was no ambiguity on the need or the legality of the NCTC and that it would make all efforts to take the states into confidence before operationalising this anti-terror body. It said it would formulate Standard Operating Procedures for the NCTC in consultations with the state governments.
Todays meeting,which was also attended by Director of Intelligence Bureau Nehchal Sandhu,was called after close to a dozen state governments,all ruled by non-Congress parties,objected to the NCTC which was supposed to have come into being on March 1. The states complained they had not been consulted on a body whose operations would interfere in the functioning of their own agencies.
Representatives at the meeting made it clear that while they were raising technical objections to the NCTC,the final decision on whether to accept it or not would come from the Chief Ministers themselves. A meeting of the chief ministers is slated on April 16 when the issue of NCTC is likely to dominate the proceedings.