Home minister P Chidambaram on Friday tried to break the deadlock over the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) by writing to chief ministers that the power to search and arrest was the “bare minimum” a counter-terrorism body needed to have.
In his letter to 10 chief ministers who had complained against the NCTC to the Prime Minister, Chidambaram said terrorism was a “grave threat” that everyone agreed “should be kept above parties and politics”.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is the only UPA ally to oppose the NCTC on the grounds that it encroaches upon the state’s jurisdiction. The other nine are of Opposition-ruled states.
Chidambaram said the home secretary would call a meeting of police chiefs and heads of anti-terror forces to discuss the scope and functions of NCTC before the next step is taken.
Pointing out that the PM asked him to address the chief ministers’ concerns, he stressed that the Centre had not given additional powers to the NCTC but made operational a provision in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act that was cleared by Parliament in 2008.
Chidambaram said in his background note on NCTC that there was no “demur or opposition” in Parliament when the government introduced the changes in the Act in 2008.
He said the law required NCTC officers to produce a person arrested before the local police, who were empowered to take further action.