Centre fails to convince states on National Counter Terrorism Centre

The central government has failed to convince state governments on the need for setting up a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) with overriding powers to address law and order issues brought about by terrorist organisations.

Chief ministers, mostly of the non-Congress ruled states, have opposed the proposed NCTC, terming it as a move against the principle of federalism, even as they cited the growing menace of Naxalism as the biggest security threat facing the country.

While most state governments ruled by non-Congress parties also agreed that there was need for better coordination of investigation and information sharing, the proposed anti-terrorist outfit clearly violates the rules of division of power between the centre and the states envisaged in the Constitution.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi said while the new draft on NCTC seems to have taken into consideration some of the concerns raised by the states, it has failed to address some important concerns. ''We have strong reservations about the proposed structure and functioning of the NCTC."

He said, "The proposed structure of the NCTC is not in congruence with the principles of federalism and the clear division of powers between the union and the states as envisaged under the constitution, as it essentially creates a federal police, a concept totally alien to our country".

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also stuck to the apprehensions he had expressed last year.

"I had expressed serious apprehensions about the structure, powers and functions of the proposed NCTC. The draft order still suffers from several serious flaws," he said.

Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar said: "The state government fully appreciates the need for an effective mechanism for sharing intelligence between the centre and the states. However, the state government had expressed opposition to the manner in which the ministry of home affairs had sought to set up the NCTC".

The chief ministers suggested a multi-pronged strategy tackle the menace of left wing extremism, saying that it needs a holistic approach.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said, "The complicated and widespread problem of left wing extremism defies easy and superficial solutions that are often applied or prescribed for it".

Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh said: "Naxalism is the biggest threat to internal security. It is not just Chhattisgarh's problem, but that of several states. It requires a single national policy to tackle this menace."

"I firmly believe that Naxalism is a direct threat to the nation. To fight it, we have to put up a nationally united front and strong national policy," he said.

While urging zero tolerance to left wing extremism, Modi, however, said the current spate of violence is the reaction to a better distribution of the benefits of development and progress to remote parts of the state, which had frustrated the designs of left-wing extremist organisations.

The NCTC, a new federal force proposed by the ministry of home affairs in the aftermath of  the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has met with much criticism from the chief ministers of various states who see the move as a means to weaken India's federalism.

The conference takes place in the aftermath of the brutal attack by left wing extremists on Congress leaders and workers and their security personnel in Chhatisgarh a few days back.

Earlier addressing state chief ministers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had urged state government to join hands with the centre to root out left wing extremism from the country.

He said the centre has adopted a two-pronged strategy to deal with the challenge - conducting proactive and sustained operations against Maoist extremists while at the same time addressing development and governance issues in affected areas.