Saturday, February 23, 2013

#After Hyderabad blasts, govt pushes for NCTC#

ByDeeptiman Tiwary, TNN | Feb 23, 2013, 02.44 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The twin blasts in Hyderabad have revived the debate over establishing the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) with the Congress government likely to push formation of the agency and bring opposing states on board by incorporating changes in the agency's proposed structure and functions.

With the political class unanimous on strict action against terrorism, the government thinks it is the right time to push the agency. Not surprisingly, both home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and external affairs minister Salman Khurshid made a pitch for NCTC on Friday.

Speaking to media persons on setting up NCTC, Khurshid said, "It's a matter of concern for all of political class. Stop looking at small political gains and decide on the larger political goal."

In Rajya Sabha, Shinde urged states to agree for NCTC. While talking about the performance of security agencies in light of the Hyderabad blasts, he said, "Natgrid is functioning well and with cooperation, we have also amended the UAPA. Work on NCTC is on. If you wish, we can take out the operations part (of the agency) and then take it forward."

The security establishment has strongly pitched for NCTC arguing that this would lead to better coordination and analysis of inputs gathered from various sources including the Centre and states and thus be a bulwark against terror attacks.

"Whenever a serious terrorist incident takes place, the state governments say there was no advance or specific input from the Intelligence Bureau. Another argument is that the state police forces are not equipped to counter threats of such magnitude. Basically, there is a lack of coordinated effort. NCTC will fill these gaps and with a strong state force on the ground, it can be very effective," an official from the security establishment said.

Hyderabad blasts were a classic example of lack of coordination where three intelligence inputs about impending attacks on places earlier recced by terrorists in the city were sent to the state. This, coupled with a four-month-old information of Dilsukhnagar having been recced by IM operatives, should have prevented the blast.

Government, however, is hopeful that NCTC may now be set up and it is ready to concede some ground to states. Sources said home ministry is of the view that the operational part (power to arrest) of the agency may be done away with and it can also be kept out of Intelligence Bureau, the two sore points with states.

The NCTC was a brainchild of then home minister P Chidambaram, but its constitution was deferred indefinitely following strong opposition from various states, particularly those ruled by non-Congress parties.

On Friday, there were guarded responses from opposition as well on the issue. While BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar skirted the issue saying NCTC was not the issue but government's failure to act on specific intelligence was, BJP leader Balbir Punj was quoted by agencies as saying, "Congress has been interested in vote bank politics. They have sent a wrong message. Fight against terror gets compromised. They repealed POTA. But any anti-terror mechanism is welcome. Country doesn't have the resolve. It is not about shrill but resolve."


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