Millennium Post

Organising against terror

The idea of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) has once again begun to dominate government thinking, with a revised proposal likely to be taken up by the cabinet after the Presidential election. The NCTC is a proposed central government anti-terror organisation to be created in India on the lines of a similarly named organisation of the US government but adapted to suit Indian conditions. The need for such an organisation was felt after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, when the state government was blamed for not acting in a timely manner on the intelligence inputs   relating to terrorism. It was felt in some quarters that a central government organisation dedicated to countering terrorism would allow the government to take preventive and preemptive action. The NCTC has been criticised, particularly by the state governments, for encroaching on the powers of state police organisations. Under the constitution, law and order is a state subject. NCTC's ability to carry out counter-terror operations on its own, without involving the state police organisation would violate the federal structure of the constitution. The other objection was to the NCTC being placed under the Intelligence Bureau (IB). It was felt that this would jeopardise the operations of the IB, which does not have the powers to arrest and whose working does not come under direct legal scrutiny.

The government's revised proposal will keep the NCTC out of the ambit of the IB. To be headed by an additional director-general of police, the new organisation will operate directly out of the Ministry of Home Affairs, reporting to the union home secretary. In addition, while the organisation's powers of arrest, search and seizure have been left untouched, its guidelines will make it clear that these will only be used in exceptional cases. The NCTC will, thus,retain its operations wing. The multi-agency centre (MAC) that collates and analyses intelligence inputs and directs action against any terrorist threats will also come under the NCTC. In this way, the criticism of the several state governments that had opposed the setting up of this organisation have been sought to be met. While it is important to ensure that the country is made proof against terrorism, this will not happen without the cooperation of the state governments. Therefore, the NCTC should not be operationalised before a  consensus to develop on it and state governments are taken on board. 
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