Nitish opposes NCTC, Patnaik denies politicising issue

Patna/Bhubaneshwar: The anti-NCTC chorus grew louder today with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar becoming the 13th leader from non-Congress-ruled states to oppose the anti- terror body even as Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said he had no intention of politicising the campaign against terror.

Kumar, who shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanded that Centre e-examine the whole issue and roll back the proposal to set up the National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

He said the decision was "unilateral and hasty" and would encroach upon the rights of the states.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Image courtesy PIB

The Odisha chief minister too wrote to the prime minister, saying he had no intention of politicising the campaign against terror as alleged by some Union ministers.

Patnaik said his primary objection to NCTC was the 'high-handed' manner in which the important issue was handled by the Centre.

"Let me assure you that I have no intention to politicise the campaign against terror as has been stated by some of your ministers and senior officers to the media," Patnaik clarified.

Both Kumar and Patnaik asserted that they strongly opposed terrorism and extremism in any form and had always been with the Centre in the fight against the twin-scourge.

However, Kumar reminded the Centre that policing was a "state subject" and that the NCTC decision had created "a confusing situation and atmosphere".

"We all are together in the fight against terrorism. The states have always cooperated with the Centre. What has then warranted setting up such centres?" he asked.

In his letter, Kumar asked Singh to re-examine the issue and ensure that the order was suitably modified to take care of the states' genuine concerns.

He said the states should have been consulted if there had been the necessity for opening such centres.

In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was non-committal on whether she would convey her opoosition to NCTC during her meeting with the Prime Minister in Delhi on Wednesday.

"I have already given a letter to the Prime Minister that will speak for itself. Everything is mentioned in that letter", she said without elaborating.

Besides Orissa and Bihar, Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have opposed creation of NCTC which is expected to be operational on 1 March.

Barring West Bengal where the opposition to NCTC is being led by key UPA ally Trinamool Congress, the other states are ruled by non-UPA parties.

"The makers of our Constitution have very clearly mentioned about the rights and responsibilities of the states. It will not be judicious to transgress the limitations in the Constitution," Kumar said asking the Centre to explain as to whether there was any state in the country which had not cooperated in tackling terrorism.

His letter said the federal structure of the country should be respected at all costs.

"The new order defining the functions and powers of NCTC has to come into force with effect from March 1, 2012 and we are aware that chief ministers of several states have also written to you against the unilateral and hasty decision of MHA to create NCTC without consulting the state governments.

"Won't you agree with the suggestion that the government of India must re-examine the whole issue and ensure that the order is suitably modified to take care of the states' genuine concerns?" Kumar said.

In the letter, Kumar said, "We have come to know about the creation of NCTC vide Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) O.M. dated February 3, 2012 which inter alia, contains provisions giving powers of arrest and search to officials of the operations division of the NCTC.

"Also the NCTC has been given the power to seek information, including documents, reports, transcripts and information of any kind from any agency which seems to include the state government also."

Patnaik said, "Prior consultation with states would have greatly strengthened the process of national security in which our aims are identical."

PTI

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