Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday strongly rejected the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) terming it as a direct interference in the federal structure of the country, besides, giving a power to Centre to tactically intervene in the internal affairs of the states.
Vehemently opposing the NCTC in the meeting of chief minister on Internal Security held under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Wednesday, Badal regretted that Union government has reduced the annual meeting of chief ministers on Internal Security as an annual ritual with not a single proposal or suggestion by chief ministers getting materialised during last four years.
He said that we should not take states for a ride on the name of security as Punjab has singularly fought the decade long terrorism without NCTC and he doesn't understand why NCTC was required now?
He said that Central forces if allowed operations under NCTC would descend in the state without assessing the sensitivity launch an operation, and move out leaving the consequences of the operations to be tackled by the states alone.
He said that how Central forces act in isolation without taking local situation in account can be gauged from the fact that Operation Blue Star was launched by the Central Forces on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, when a large number of devotees were inside the Golden Temple resulting in the large number of causalities of innocent pilgrims.
He said that this gross insensitivity by Central forces instead of tackling the situation further complicates it for the states.
The deputy chief minister said that instead of NCTC the system of sharing of intelligence by ministry of home affairs was effectively working. He said that instead of frittering away energy and resources the new body is not acceptable to any state. The Union government should provide full backing to the state governments in their modernisations plans and capacity building.
Questioning the basic purpose of annual meeting on Internal Security without any substantial result, Badal said that instead of All India Meeting, the Union home minister should convene state specific meeting individually and tackle the problems of those states, understanding the ground reality position in that specific state.
He said that this meeting has become an annual ritual with chief ministers delivering five minutes speech and Union government not accepting their suggestions.
Requesting the Prime Minister to pay special attention to border states and problems being created by cross-border insurgency, narco-terrorism and counterfeit currency being pushed in the country, Badal questioned the wisdom of Union government to focus on problem when it blows on your face.
He said that on Wednesday after Naxal attack total energy of the Union government was on anti-naxal operations. He said that the problem of Naxal was more than two decades old and failure to tackle the problem suggests that we were adopting wrong strategy in controlling it. He said that Prime Minister should also convene a special meeting of border states as being done in the Naxal affected states.
Raising the issue of increased inflow of drugs, counterfeit currency from across the border, Badal said that the record seizure of drugs by Punjab Police during last few years underlines the fact that the BSF directly under the control of Union home ministry was failing to seal the border effectively. He said that Punjab was paying dearly this social cost of increased drug flow with Union government being mute spectator.
Emphasising the need for investing heavily in the modernisation and technological upgradation of security forces, Badal said that on one hand Union government was spending Rs 91,000 crore on Food Security Bill and Rs 33,000 crore on MGNREGS, while on the other it reduced the budget of modernisation of security forces from RS 1000 crore in 2000 to Rs 300 crore, with Punjab getting only paltry share of Rs 30 crore.
He said that this meeting looks a façade if we see the "importance" being given to modernisation of forces. Badal said that in contrast the budget of Punjab Police has been enhanced five folds in five years to meet the increased challenges on the law and order front.
"We should learn from USA that has invested heavily to tackle the problem of terrorism especially after 9/11. I don't expect that we should have modernisation budget equivalent to America but our Prime Minister can make a beginning with minimum Rs 10, 000 crore allocation that could be doubled next year to modernise and technologically upgrade state forces," he added.
Badal said that no state was asking funds for roads or infrastructure but they were asking funds for national security that has been reduced from Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 300 crore despite spectre of militancy assuming unimaginable proportion. He said that we have to fight this battle collectively and it was the duty of the Centre to liberally help the states in technological upgradation of security forces.
Reiterating the resolve of Punjab government to maintain peace in the state, Badal congratulated the Punjab Police in taking primitive steps in busting two militant modules with large quantity of RDX before they could create any problem in the state. He said that Centre must support Punjab in its battle against border terrorism, smuggling of drugs, counterfeit currency and web-based militant propaganda.
Demanding a security package for the border state of Punjab, Badal said that though we have been able to eliminate militancy from the state but efforts were on from forces across the border to foment trouble in the state. He said that we should invest early rather than waiting for investing on fire fighting operations after the problem assumes dangerous proportion.
Ruing Centre's apathy towards Punjab that has fought nation's war against militancy, Badal said that what to call off 'special package' the state was burdened with special term loan of Rs 5,800 crore provided by Centre during trouble time that grew to Rs 7723 crore with interest component. Badal said that Punjab paid a heavy price to successfully fight the nation's war against a violent secessionist movement.
He said that the cost in terms of loss of innocent lives, including civilians, members of security forces and family members of the police personnel cannot be calculated. Badal said that the cost of rebuilding a battle scarred society and economy, in all its dimensions, cannot be quantified. "It is an irony that instead of willing and ready financial and other assistance from the GOI, the State had to pay Rs 2,694 crores for the nation's war," Badal said.
Informing about Punjab's efforts to strengthen police force, Badal said that during last three years alone 16,000 police personnel including 2,800 women constable have been recruited, taking the strength to 75,600. The five training centres have also been upgraded.
Emphasising the need for protecting the women, Badal said that Punjab has taken unique measure to prevent crime against women and to ensure speedier trials. He said that Punjab has constituted Mobile Women Commando Squads and Quick Reaction Teams for speedier police response. The percentage of conviction in such cases has gone up and 7 Fast Track Courts have already been setup and 13 in the process of establishment.
Focusing on community policing, Badal informed about the SAANJH project initiated by Punjab Police to bridge disconnect between community and police. He said that SAANJH kendras are successfully working in 114 sub-divisions and 363 police stations.