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Opposition to NCTC: Terrorism will continue unguarded

Almost all major democracies have created agencies to tackle transnational terrorism. This has been done within the framework of their federal structures, placing national security concerns above partisan politics. So, what are our state leaders squawking about?

“In the room, the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo”—T S Eliot, Love song of Alfred Prufrock


I am blinded. A wave of blood drenches me, my spectacles and my eyes. A flying, bodiless arm smashes into my face and I stagger backwards. As I fall, a slice of shrapnel from the terrorist bomb pierces my stomach. Incredible pain. Intolerable pain. I collapse. Unconscious. But I am alive. Not so the fifty others that the bomb ripped apart.

This is not an eye-witness account of a terrorist attack in Mumbai, or Delhi, or Chennai or Hyderabad. It is a victim-witness account which makes us wail “how long, O Lord, how long must we suffer these cowardly killings of innocents?

We the people of India have to suffer as long as the politicians of all parties continue to waffle about police powers and trading on federalist toes; as long as concrete heads refuse to accept that the country needs a central organisation specially designed and trained to counter terrorism and catch terrorists before they attack.

I do not think many of us citizens, including me, are clear about the states’ objections to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Are they really so serious that it takes voting in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and a realignment of political forces?

Whatever they are, we know who is to be blamed if terrorists attack in the near future and more innocents are murdered. We will blame Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha, who has filed a case against the NCTC in the Madras High Court, all the political parties that want the NCTC thrown out, baby and bathwater, and the UPA for not moving quickly enough to change the structure of the NCTC to satisfy the states’ demands.

“Not all the perfumes of Arabia” can wash their hands of the blood of the innocents.
Anil Chowdhry, former secretary, internal security, ministry of home affairs, provided a solution and a proper perspective on the NCTC in a recent article.

He said anyone who has dealt with or understands internal security issues will tell you that the National Counter Terrorism Centre is imperative. Such a body is required to meet the growing threat of terrorist violence which recognises neither national nor international boundaries.

He suggested the prime minister should perhaps drop the police role of the NCTC, leaving it free to focus its energies on intelligence gathering, coordination and operations. Under the Constitution, law and order and policing are the responsibility of the state governments. But at the time the Constitution was framed there were no organised terrorist groups of the kind operating globally today. The worst the police had to handle was violence driven by communal forces or political ideology. Now it is quite different.

As Chowdhry pointed out, almost all major democracies have created agencies to tackle transnational terrorism. This has been done within the framework of their federal structures, placing national security concerns above partisan politics.

So, what are our state leaders squawking about? Haven’t they heard of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt?

(R Vijayaraghavan has been a professional journalist for more than four decades, specialising in finance, business and politics. He conceived and helped to launch Business Line, the financial daily of The Hindu group. He can be contacted at [email protected].)

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COMMENTS

captainjohann

5 years ago

How can these state leaders
1.Badal wants Beant assasin to be freed.
2.Karunanidhi wants the Rajiv killers to be freed
3.national conference does not want Afzal guru to be hanged.
Then how come these leaders will support NCTC.This talk about state and federal concept are just eyewash.The recent revelation that naxalites have infiltrated the koodankulam area to state a strike against the Nuke plant shows how much western powers will go for their agenda. Indians must not cry of terrorist strikes if they elect these leaders.

Rambabu Shastri

5 years ago

The constitution is being twisted out of context by politicians and more emphasis placed on counterfeit, parochial concerns. In the fight against terror, the only victims have been the ordinary people of India.

The squabbling among multiple investigation agencies and the cheap egos they try to placate, showing their superiority is nothing but a trait of the managerial class of India. Without pandering to egos, nothing will get done these days, and we have our generations of caste culture to blame that has it so ingrained in the Indian psyche, that almost all Indians operate like crabs in a well, each one trying to climb over the other to get the advantage.

Therefore, national interest is now one of the last in the priority list. It happens even in Corporate India. Sad, but true!!!

REPLY

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to Rambabu Shastri 5 years ago

Should then TERROR defense be a CONCURRENT SUBJECT? WHEN WILL MORONS UNDERSTAND THE GRAVE CONSEQUENCES OF STATE SPONSORED TERRORISM!

Shibaji Dash

5 years ago

FBI was born out of the need to tackle cross-border dacoity.Remember Bony & Clyde? The Americans are more federalists than the Indians. The States there agreed that business( read prosperity) was a much greater need than State autonomy. Indian Constitution is no doubt federal but with unitary features. The constitutional process depends on how the political process functions. We have been witness to the total absence of any propriety in the political process. The NCTC issue should be accordingly viewed.

anoop

5 years ago

Well faith is lost and the integrity is doubtful, then every action seems to be suspicious.

People leading this country have lost the faith of the nation, have doubtful integrity. So they cannot do any thing. Which and what home minister we are talking about. What PM is and how FM is.... these things do not matter.

It is Andheri Nagi and Chaupat Raja.

Shibaji Dash

5 years ago

It's for the States to sort out with the Centre by asserting themselves in the rightful way instead of bickering in the media that has given the impression of a war between the States and the Centre when the target is and should be war on terror or defence against terror. They are all politicians, whether heading the States or the Centre. A Class that according to every one has lost credibility. Winning ballot boxes is not the same thing as retaining credibility of the people. We all know and have been witnesses to how elections are fought and won.

REPLY

Ratanlal Purohit

In Reply to Shibaji Dash 5 years ago

Some fundamental Points come in the way of dealing with Foreign State Sponsored terrorism.
One Policing is a State Subject.
Two Police is under Politicians.
Three Upto 30 km offshore is State turf.
There is no unified Command.
26/11 happened because lack of coordination
Defence is subservient to Babus.
Law is necessary though but first remove the long chain of going through the non value added steel frame using police for bandobust and spoonerism.
Long duty hours for frivolous purposes. VVIPs should not hold public at bay to cavalcade.
Centre should be collaborative with all the states.
National Security comes first. Remembe what Kasab and company could have done to VVIPs at Malabar Hill if not intercepted by Omble.
Just think before showing their inflated egos. Lets be Indians first and Indian last in the matter of National Defense.

K B Patil

5 years ago

While the CMs may oppose the NCTC for their own not so democractic reasons. Mr. Gautam Patel, a journalist has written an article in a daily, on the dangers of NCTC. As pointed out by him, in its current form, NCTC is truly dangerous. The drawbacks in Mr. Patel's own words: The Indian avatar of the NCTC was designed to surpass its American counterpart in many ways: a raft of existing agencies would be brought under the NCTC, some were to be merged with it, and it was to have very wide additional powers.


Given these operational and statutory minefields, it was reasonable to expect the Centre not only to consult various states — especially those that had been terror targets — before unleashing the NCTC, but also that the new agency would be controlled by a statute. Neither happened. On February 3, 2012, the Union Government’s Home Ministry issued an executive order (office memorandum III 11011/67/05-IS.IV) establishing the NCTC with effect from March 1. The office memorandum references Article 73 of the Constitution, which says that Union’s executive power can be exercised in relation to those matters on which Parliament can legislate; but not those that also fall within the powers of a state’s legislature.
Criminal law and procedure, preventive detention and public order are all matters in this common zone.


The effect of this legal feint-and-dodge is ominous in purpose and sinister in design. Not established under law, the NCTC sits under the Intelligence Bureau (IB), itself ungoverned by any statute, one originally designed by the British during the Great Game to watch the Russians in the North-West Frontier. This means that the IB has no Parliamentary supervision (“oversight”); but the IB also has no powers of arrest or seizure, since that would require a law. Like a Mumbai bhel-puri, the NCTC takes from everywhere: like the IB, it has no governing law, but by executive fiat it derives power under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). This law was twice amended in 2004 and 2008 to deal with terrorism, and what this means is that the NCTC can do today what the IB cannot: it can arrest, detain, interrogate and prosecute. This is far beyond the powers of the American model on which the Indian NCTC claims to have been based.


The NCTC is far more than a monitoring unit. Its personnel can fly into any state without reference to local police or the state’s home department, arrest any suspect and, in a domestic version of that wonderful American euphemism, perform ‘extraordinary rendition’ by flying the suspects right out to be held for up to four months without trial.


We should see this for what it really is: an attempt to brand every single citizen of this country as potential terrorist. The very real problem of terrorism has, in the hands of this government, became an excuse for the violation of civil liberties and fundamental rights, and by repeatedly raising the spectre of terrorism we are asked to surrender hard-won freedoms.

Shibaji Dash

5 years ago

In playing the game of ' federalism' they are not fiddling like Nero of Rome. They are all Calligulas of Rome. None of them has had the exposure to the terror blasts as it happened more than once in Mumbai, and Delhi. These States do not have either resources or expertise to handle a single blast effect. Their coast lines are naked and supine for a terror ravage.

Ratanlal Purohit

5 years ago

The author is right. PC could not make Regional larger than life satraps see the light. He has to blame himself though. He also has lot of airs. Centre is shaking. A castle of cards. Mams sneezes give it cold feet. But political morons lack statesmenship. Of course we are not always lucky to find a Sardar to handle States with iron hand

B Rajaram

5 years ago

Wish one serious aspect of the terrorist funding and arms trade route as well as the money laundering route of the corrupt state heads criss cross with each other.

If a state has a history of stealing from nation for private stashing out of the country, then terrorists do have a leverage with such states. The compromised heads can never act as honest as they make public utterances. The US agencies identified this serious problem which helps the terrorism. In India, by the mechanism of keeping the files secret but make public orders, hiding arbitrary bad nature of the order, corrupt generate massive amounts of black money. This has to take the same route as the terrorists use. We get a compromised state.

It is not just NCTC- The corrupt in power can now use this against innocents,not necessarily against the terrorists.

First we must remove this very innocent looking mundane practice of keeping file secret and order public. We must get both file and order published by the Government by exposing this abuse of administration, which has been inherited from the British. This also causes justice to be denied to the aggrieved by denying the needed papers from the file, to get relief from a court. A serious violation of constitutional right to the citizen of the country. So we should get this distortion in administration corrected.

Then the corrupt will lose incentive to rush for government power, because unfair orders will get stayed anyway. It becomes difficult for them to work in government.

Only public service is possible. So corrupt will leave. Then only those honest who want to do public service will aspire for government power.

The terrorist will then have no leverage with those in state power, because the black money flow will not be from the state power seats.

Then NCTC will be the most effective instrument.

Else it will be another state tool to threaten honest citizens and activists.

captainjohann

5 years ago

These state leaders are following the dictates of Foreign powers especially Americans.The virulent opposition to anything done by Chidambaram comes out of this prodding because at last we have a Home minister who is having a grip of the job.Also to these leaders naxalites who kill are not terrorists but only Jihadies.Now Patnaik is accusing Centre when the two Italians are kidnapped by Naxalites in his home state . How these foreigners entered kandhmal naxalite infested area when they are in India on business visa is also a mystery.Was this kidnapping stage managed by Italians? We know how Kim Davy dropped arms to naxalites in Jharkhand.There were nearly 60 constables armed with 303 rifles at CST but could not take on only two well trained terrorists killing civilians. Same was the case at Taj. Let these leaders show some maturity when it involves terrorism

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