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National Counter – Terrorism Centre – What Is It and Why There Is Opposition?

Terrorism and corruption are two sides of a same coin called inhumanness. To tackle corruption, a monster that is threatening economic progress of India, some ‘wise’ people came up with an idea called ‘lokpal‘. Government killed it.

And when Mumbai was taken hostage by gunmen from neighbouring country, the government realized that there should be an agency – all powerful to gather intelligence and thwart terrorist activities. In home minister’s words:

“As the name NCTC suggests, the goal is to counter terrorism. Obviously, this will include preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place, and responding to a terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators.”

So, to tackle terrorism, government passed an executive order to establish NCTC – National Counter Terrorism Centre – which has power to arrest any individual it suspects to be terrorist, without prior sanction from the states concerned.

Now, seeing this clause states, mainly BJP ruled, and also others ruled by regional parties are up in arms against central government. They think union government is diluting the powers of states, and is weakening federalism in the name of fighting terrorism.

When it came to corruption, governments scuttled every attempt by civil society to convince our representatives of the importance of bringing powerful lokpal. Then also they argued that powerful lokpal would infringe upon the rights of states. Government at the centre was happy about it – it needed someone to kill the bill. It obliged.

We have witnessed that terrorists do not see borders. NCTC must be powerful, but government would have shown little courtesy of consulting states before executing the order.

A major worry for state governments is that, a powerful centre would misuse NCTC as it is supposed to come under administrative ambit of IB (Intelligence Bureau) – which has been used for gathering political information about opponents and electoral prospects (wikileaks). Also, this agency will function under the ministry of home affairs, but will not be accountable to the parliament.

Our constitution in 7th schedule, list II, has given policing and law and order responsibilities to states. Even CBI can not initiate investigation without prior permission from concerned state governments.

But, home minister says the same constitution vests the union government with powers to provide its citizens security from both internal and external threats.

It is because of failure in intelligence gathering that major terrorist acts have  been taken place in the country. Add to it poor infrastructure and training of police to handle such challenges.

It is said that NCTC will have National Investigation Agency, National Technical Research Organization, Joint Intelligence Committee and National Security Guards under its control.

Both central government and state governments can work out a mutually acceptable formula through consultations and negotiations in the interest of the nation and people. There is no doubt that security of citizens should be a paramount concern of all political parties whether they are in power or in opposition.

But there is little hope. Lokpal is dead now. Corruption will anyway boom with booming India. If anti-terrorism measures become the victims of political tussle, then it will weaken the security apparatus paving the way for more terrorist strikes.

I was wondering if ‘federalism’ came in the way of stopping massacres of 1984 and 2002!