The home ministry has refused to buy Maharashtra government's demand that the Centre share the bill for 26/11 Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab’s security, emphasising that two companies of the Indo-Tibetan Security Force (ITBP) were deployed at the state’s request.
Two companies of ITBP have been deployed to protect Kasab since March 2009 at Mumbai high-security Arthur Road jail at the request of the state government to secure Kasab.
The move followed intelligence reports that terrorists could try to kill the only surviving terrorist, who had become a living proof of the involvement of Pakistani elements in the attack.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Friday said this was an administrative matter that could not be solved without being debated.
Home ministry sources have scoffed at Maharashtra government expressing surprise at the ITBP asking them to pay for the deployment, pointing that this was the standard practice.
The state government has demanded that the Centre waive the bill for Kasab’s security because the attack was not just an attack on Mumbai but an attack on India.
The state’s home minister RR Patil had earlier told the legislative council that they had asked the home ministry to withdraw the demand for Rs. 19.28 crore.
According to one account, this outstanding amount has since then gone up to Rs 27 crore.
“It is unfair to ask the state government alone to bear the burden," Patil told the council. The 26/11 case was investigated and prosecuted by the state police.
A senior home ministry official said the Centre could consider deducting the outstanding dues from the security-related expenditure or other central schemes at a later date.
Government officials, however, indicated that notwithstanding the noises in Centre, it was unlikely that the home ministry would go that far.
The expenditure on Kasab may be under the spotlight but it is not unusual for states to seek waivers.
The home ministry last year told Parliament that state governments owed them Rs. 5990.07 crore as on 1 April 2011 on account of deployment of central armed police forces.