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Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, May 05, 2012
Congress ally National Conference on Saturday articulated its reservations over the Centre's NCTC stating the present form makes it as stringent as the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Turning down the proposal in a polite manner, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah also pointed out that the issues raised during the meeting of various state officials chaired by Union home secretary RK Singh last month have not
been incorporated in the new draft circulated by the Centre.

Omar said the proposal in the NCTC for handing over the arrested persons and seized material to the nearest police station "as soon as possible" makes it "almost as stringent as the existing provision available under AFSPA."

"This is likely to have far reaching consequences in our state which is politically sensitive. We have been advocating for revocation of AFSPA and it has been welcomed by all shades of people in the state", he said.

Therefore, "mandating the NCTC with such powers may run counter to our efforts towards the removal of AFSPA at least from certain areas, and can generate avoidable criticism", Abdullah said.

Speaking at the chief ministers Conference chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Omar suggested that the NCTC should assume the role of a coordinating agency, instead of controlling or prescribing counter terrorism priorities for each stakeholder.

The power of arrest and search should remain with the local police only, the chief minister said.

"The power of arrest and search to be conducted independently without the state police being a part of the exercise may result in overlapping of responsibilities of the law enforcing agencies and can have local operational sensitivities especially, in the context of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir", he said.

Omar said the Unified Headquarters in the state enunciated an SOP for operations under which Army and Security Force Units engage in operational searches and cordons with the state police being associated with it. "We can have similar arrangements for the NCTC," he said.

"The management of events after the conduct of operations is as important as the operation itself. The state police knows the background, topography and problems of the people with bearings on the security of the state," Omar said.

He warned that independent operations by the NCTC without involving the state police can cause serious law and order concerns which will have to be borne by the local administration.

"It may, therefore, be advisable for NCTC to have prior consultation with an officer designated for this purpose by the state government before launching its operation or undertaking arrests", he said.

NCTC may also provide technical assistance in terms of communication interception and financial investigation to the state police and also provide legal help by way of monitoring and prosecuting persons who are involved in crime in more than one state.

The proposed body could also consider devising an institutional mechanism to look at the external dimensions of terrorism and consider apprehending, prosecuting and bringing to justice the terrorist leaders who are taking shelter in other countries, the chief minister said.

He said the amendments should include that the Director of NCTC should consult the state Director General of Police before launching any operation in the state.