NCTC stringent like AFSPA: Omar

Last Updated: Sat, May 05, 2012 18:52 hrs

New Delhi, May 5 (IBNS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday criticised the proposed anti-terror body National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and said the power of arrest should remain with state police.

He objected to the proposal in the NCTC for handing over arrested people to the nearest police station "as soon as possible".

"It is almost as stringent as the existing provision available under AFSPA [Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act]," Abdullah said at the crucial meeting of Chief Ministers on the NCTC in New Delhi.

"This is likely to have far reaching consequences in our state which is politically sensitive. We have been advocating for revocation of AFSPA and it has been welcomed by all shades of people in the state", he said.

"Mandating the NCTC with such powers may run counter to our efforts towards the removal of AFSPA at least from certain areas, and can generate avoidable criticism," said Abdullah.

"The power of arrest and search to be conducted independently without the state police being a part of the exercise may result in overlapping of responsibilities of the law enforcing agencies and can have local operational sensitivities especially, in the context of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

"The management of events after the conduct of operations is as important as the operation itself. The state police knows the background, topography and problems of the people with bearings on the security of the state," he said.

"It may, therefore, be advisable for NCTC to have prior consultation with an officer designated for this purpose by the state government before launching its operation or undertaking arrests," said Abdullah.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday chaired the meeting of state Chief Ministers, hoping to find common ground that will settle a standoff over the upcoming NCTC.

Speaking at the meeting, Singh said the issue of NCTC was in no way a battle between the Centre and the Sate governments.

Singh said: "The establishment of the NCTC is not a State versus Centre issue."

He said: "The NCTC should be a vehicle of our combined efforts to reach the shared goal of curbing terrorism and eradicating militancy."

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said counter-terrorism is a shared responsibility of the State and the Centre government.

Speaking at the meeting, Chidambaram said: "Countering terrorism is a shared responsibility of the Central Government and the State Governments."

Several Chief Ministers including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa have voiced their opposition to the setting up of the NCTC.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was among the first to question the NCTC move.

Chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh, Nitish Kumar of Bihar, Manik Sarkar of Tripura and Sadananda Gowda of Karnataka also criticised the central government over purportedly unilateral decisions.

Cleared by the union cabinet in February, the NCTC proposal was intended to bolster the security architecture of the country to fix gaping holes in the nation's anti-terror machinery exposed by the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that killed 166 people and wounded over 300.

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