New Delhi: The Centre on Tuesday gave into the demands of state governments opposing the ambitious setting up of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and said the proposed intelligence agency will not have the right to make arrests without the states' permission, sources said. NCTC will also be placed outside the purview of the Intelligence Bureau, sources added.
The proposal to set up the agency will now be discussed in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The government was facing opposition from all the states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and even its own ally Mamata Banerjee in operationalising NCTC.
The BJP, while not directly opposing the latest developments, cautioned the government to constitute the NCTC only as a centre for intelligence gathering and not as an operations unit. It added that the counter-terrorism powers must rest with the states solely.
According to the sources, state director general of police (DGP) will be also be informed before any operation is undertaken by the NCTC. One of the strongest criticisms of the NCTC came from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who cited the Batla House encounter and said the Centre's contradictory stand showed its inability to identify the enemy.
The Centre had reached out to states saying the anti-terror body won't infringe on state rights, and had insisted that terror knows no state boundaries. It had also stressed on the need for a one-stop-shop for counter-terror operations.
A highly-placed source said the Home Ministry has prepared a note on NCTC incorporating the two vital points and will be placed in the next meeting of the CCS headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The softening of the Centre's stand came as non-Congress Chief Ministers continue to oppose the earlier proposal which allows central sleuths to carry out operations anywhere in the country without informing a state concerned.
According to the earlier proposal, the Multi-Agency Centre and the operations wing of the IB were earmarked for carrying out anti-terror operations on its own and inform or hand over any detained suspect to the nearest police station as early as possible and the anti-terror hub would function under the Intelligence Bureau. These two issues of the NCTC were strongly opposed by Chief Ministers like Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Narendra Modi (Gujarat), J Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu) and Naveen Patnaik (Odisha) alleging it would infringe on the states' powers and hurt the country's federal structure.
After the CCS approval, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde will hold talks with all Chief Ministers who have been opposing the NCTC in its present form. Sources said the twin blasts in Hyderabad has given the Centre's initiative an added sense of urgency to restart negotiations with states for setting up the NCTC, a pet project of former Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde may hold separate meetings with the Chief Ministers seeking to allay their apprehensions and apprise them of the revised plan for the anti-terror hub. An earlier meeting of chief ministers, convened by Chidambaram, had failed to evolve a consensus on NCTC.
Shinde is believed to have discussed the issue with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a key opponent of the project, during his two-day visit to the state from Sunday. Shinde on Tuesday stressed that the Centre was keen to introduce the NCTC to firmly deal with terrorism and said Banerjee has a 'positive mind' towards the issue.
"I had talked to her earlier also on the NCTC issue. She has a positive mind (Unka toh man hai)," Shinde had told reporters when asked if he discussed the issue with the Chief Minister at a meeting at Fraserganj in South 24-Parganas district. The Home Ministry had readied an ordinance in February 2012 making the new anti-terror body a nodal organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. But it was deferred indefinitely in the face of opposition by the states.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)