Lone surviving 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was executed this week. But the debate over who should pay to keep him alive, lives on.
The Centre – that had decided to deploy ITBP commandos to guard Kasab – hasn’t decided yet to waive the Indo-Tibetan Border Police’s bill sent to the Maharashtra government.
Maharashtra home minister RR Patil had on Thursday reiterated that the state government should not be made to pay for Kasab’s security provided by the ITBP. The ITBP – that deployed about 170 commandos since March 2009 – had spent nearly Rs. 30 crore on the commandos.
A government source said on Friday New Delhi was wary of wiping out the outstanding dues in a hurry in this case.
But the home ministry would be wary of carrying out its threat to adjust the dues from earmarked allocations to the state given the possibility of the tiff blowing up in its face.
Maharashtra isn’t the only one struggling with home ministry rule to make states pay for central forces. The home ministry has asked states to shell out a whopping Rs. 8,700 crore for central forces sent to fight naxals, quell communal riots or protect important installations and individuals.
But the Kasab debate has convinced a growing section within the central government that it is unfair to make the states pay for trying to secure the lives of its people.
“The very basis of the state is to protect the life and property of citizens. The constitutional division of responsibilities between the central and the state governments is subservient to this principle,” said a government official.
Also, many officials believe that law and order issues cannot be treated as a mere state subject. “So is public health, education and sanitation... That doesn’t stop the Centre from spending on the social sector,” a senior government functionary said.
A spokesperson for the Chhattisgarh government said chief minister Raman Singh had raised the issue with the prime minister, home minister and finance minister. Their response had been favourable, in-principle.