Even a day before the chief ministers’ meet on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee stuck to her refusal to make way.
Although home minister P Chidambaram last week put riders on the NCTC’s controversial powers of search, seizure and arrest to mollify the chief ministers, Banerjee was unmoved.She told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday that the NCTC would encroach upon the states’ jurisdiction and "destroy the federal structure" of the country, and, thus, set the tone for tomorrow’s conference.
The NCTC was cleared by the cabinet committee on security in January as a one-stop terror fighting body under the Intelligence Bureau. It was to create a database of terror suspects and their families, analyse and build threat scenarios, prescribe the states’ priorities and carry out operations.
The chief ministers of the NDA-ruled states first raised voice against a central agency being granted powers to arrest in the state. But when Banerjee – the second biggest constituent of the ruling UPA – also raised her voice, the PM promptly told Chidambaram to put the NCTC on hold.
The home ministry convened a meeting of the state police chiefs and chief secretaries, but did not find support from them – especially the police chiefs – either.
Last week, the home ministry limited the NCTC’s power to make arrests only to special cases where operations needed to be conducted immediately.
A state police chief, who preferred anonymity, said this logic did not make sense. The state police will always be able to respond first due to its spread, not a force that is headquartered in Delhi “If the NCTC wants immediate operations, it is all the more reason to involve the state,” he said.