CMs meeting on NCTC likely to be fiery

NEW DELHI, May 4: The Centre will try its best to get a nod from Chief Ministers to set up the controversial anti-terror hub NCTC at tomorrow’s crucial meeting which is expected to witness fiery scenes.
Non-Congress Chief Ministers such as Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik, Tamil Nadu’s J Jayalalithaa and Gujarat’s Narendra Modi are likely to oppose the formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre at the Chief Ministers’ conference despite the Centre’s assurance that State Governments will be taken into confidence before any operation is conducted in any State.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram are expected to allay the apprehensions of some of the Chief Ministers who had opposed the NCTC saying it would encroach upon the States’ powers and hurt the federal structure of the country.
Sources said UPA ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may lower their opposition and are likely to come on board for setting up the NCTC.
Earlier this week, the Home Minister had said the draft of the two SOPs for operating the NCTC were circulated to the States and they would allay many apprehensions of the Chief Ministers who have expressed their concerns.
“I think if the Chief Ministers will read (the SOPs), I believe they will read, much of the doubts will be dissolved and at the (May 5) meeting if they have any suggestion on the SOPs, we are willing to listen to those suggestions, incorporate as many as possible”, Chidambaram had said, adding that fighting terrorism was a shared responsibility of the States and the Centre.
The Home Ministry has sent the draft SOPs listing powers and functions of the anti-terror hub’s Standing Council, which will have representatives of all State Governments and the Centre.
Director Generals of Police or Chiefs of ATS of all States will be members of the Standing Council of the NCTC and before any anti-terror operation is conducted, the NCTC would take into confidence the concerned State’s police officers.
The Centre also explained about the need for NCTC and various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, particularly 43(A) and 43(B) to be used by the NCTC. These two sections have raised the hackles of some States.
The UA(P) Act’s provision 43(A) empowers the police to arrest and search, while 43(B) says any officer arresting a person under section 43(A) shall inform him of the grounds for such arrest and every person arrested and articles seized under section 43(A) shall be forwarded without unnecessary delay to the officer in charge of the nearest police station.
The SOPs also mentioned about the exercise of power under section 3.1 and 3.2 of the office memorandum issued listing organisation, functions, powers and duties of NCTC.
Section 3.1 states the Director of NCTC shall be specified as the designated authority under section 2(e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Section 3.2 says officers of the operations division of NCTC shall have the power to arrest and the power to search under section 43A of the UA(P)A.
The Home Ministry also circulated the agenda papers for the May 5 specially convened meeting where it would explain the genesis, objectives, structure and powers of the proposed NCTC.
The agenda papers say the Standing Council will meet as often as necessary and may also meet through video conference.
The Standing Council shall ensure that NCTC is the single and effective point of control and coordination of all counter terrorism measures. (PTI)


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