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Counter Terror Hub: Chidambaram asks home sec to meet police chiefs

Friday February 24, 2012 11:06:59 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The controversial anti-terror intelligence hub, which was to be set up March 1, may be delayed in the wake of opposition by state governments on the ground that it was eating into their rights.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram Friday wrote to 10 non-Congress chief ministers assuring them that Home Secretary R.K. Singh will be convening a meeting of state police chiefs and heads of anti-terror agencies.

"The office memorandum dated Feb 3, 2012, notifies the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC). Before we take the next steps, I have asked the home secretary to call (the) meeting... and discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC," Chidambaram said.

The home minister's letter comes a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened to defuse the controversy over the formation of the anti-terror agency that will collate and analyse threat perceptions.

The agency derives its powers from the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and can make arrests on its own from anywhere in the country.

At least 10 chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, whose Trinamool Congress is a Congress ally in the ruling United Progressive Alliance, had written to Manmohan Singh raising fears that powers given to the anti-terror agency were infringing on the rights of the states and threatened federalism in India.

But Chidambaram denied this, saying the agency derives its powers from the act of 1967 that was amended in 2008.

"When the bill was introduced in December 2008 to amend the (act), it was passed by both houses of parliament. There was no demur or opposition," he said in the letter to chief ministers of Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and West Bengal.

Chidamabaram wrote that terrorism "is a grave threat to our country and our way of life".

"Countering terrorism is, therefore, a shared responsibility," he said, seeking their more comments on the matter.

The home minister said that the intention of the central government was to continue to work with the state governments "in order to meet the challenge of terrorism".

A four-page document attached with the letter details "the genesis, objectives, structure and powers of NCTC".

The home minister requested the chief ministers to "carefully consider the note".










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