As the chorus against the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) grew louder, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday picked up the pen to allay the fears of chief ministers and promised to have home minister P Chidambaram address their concerns.
Singh’s response to letters from the chief ministers of seven states, including Gujarat and West Bengal, came on a day Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah stressed the need for consultations with states and a parliamentary panel called for putting the NCTC on hold.
The states opposed the move to give NCTC powers of search, seize and arrest that they perceive to be their jurisdiction.
The PM’s letter, however, did not indicate that the powers of the NCTC — to come into force on March 1 — would be reviewed. Instead, he suggested the NCTC would primarily be coordinating counter-terrorism efforts, a role that is being carried out by the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
“It is for this reason that the NCTC has been located within the IB and not as a separate organisation,” he said.
A home ministry official said a meeting with state police and administrative officials could be held before March 1 to explain the working of NCTC and clarify their doubts. But he suggested that consultations with chief ministers were unlikely to stand in the way since the NCTC would, in any case, take time to set systems to improve coordination.