(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 26, 2012
NATIONAL COUNTER-TERRORISM CENTRE
Targeting Terrorism, or Federalism?
THE UPA-2 government’s unilateral decision announcing the formation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) has rightly evoked indignation by opposition ruled state governments, including some of the UPA allies, as yet another encroachment on the rights of the states. This has triggered a fresh debate over centre-state relations.
The UPA-2 government needs
reminded, unfortunately, that the first clause of our constitution
country as “
As early as in 1977, when
Left Front government assumed office in
In an effort to allay the present genuine concerns over the NCTC, the prime minister intervened and attempted to assure the state governments that this anti-terror body does not infringe on the rights of the states. In a letter to seven chief ministers, the PM said that “In forming the NCTC, it is not the government’s intent in any way to affect the basic features of the constitutional provisions and allocation of power between the states and the union.” Explaining the need to coordinate counter-terrorism efforts throughout the country, the PM said that “It is for this reason that the NCTC has been located within the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and not as a separate organisation”.
The prime minister, thus, contradicts himself in his explanation for the setting up of this new agency. If the IB is already doing this job, why is there a need for this additional supra body? This UPA government itself had, in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, constituted the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) which was unanimously enacted by the parliament. Why then a need for an additional body?
During the discussions on the NIA in the parliament, the Left parties had raised genuine concerns on the rights of the states with whom the constitution exclusively vests the right of `law and order’, the conduct of criminal investigation and the delivery of criminal justice. The parliament was assured by the union home minister then, that on the basis of the experience of the first six months, the issue will be revisited by the parliament, on this score. This, however, has never happened.
In the light of this, the
of the NCTC, therefore, raises genuine doubts and concerns about its
objectives. The task of the intelligence
agencies, throughout their historical evolution and experience of other
democracies in the world, is to gather
information that the police can use for criminal investigation
delivery of justice. It is not the
mandate of the intelligence agencies to do the job of policing. By giving the NCTC the authority
and powers to conduct searches and arrests,
this distinction between intelligence gathering and policing gets blurred to the extent of opening up
manifold avenues for abuses. Such has been the experience of many
including that of the FBI in the
Once again, the urgency
with which this UPA government announced this decision of the formation
NCTC appears more under the pressure of commitments to the
As a result of these initiatives, which is part of the strategic partnership with the USA, which actually began under the Vajpayee led NDA government and carried forward vigorously by the UPA, the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) has conducted 79 police training courses for over 1500 Indian law enforcement officials, according to an US Embassy release in New Delhi.
The Indian parliament
reflecting the opinion
of the Indian people, stood up as one man to support the government on
initiatives to rid the country of this anti-national scourge of
all hues and varieties. It unanimously enacted the NIA and other
legislations to empower the government agencies to do this job
effectively. This, however, cannot be
hijacked by the government as permission to allow the penetration of
On all these counts, it is imperative that this UPA-2 government must be forced to convene a special session of the Inter State Council, that is today lying dormant, to discuss this issue and subject the NCTC to a thorough discussion in the parliament.
(February 22, 2012)