Country's security a shared responsibility: PC

Under attack from non-Congress-ruled states over setting up of an anti-terror institution, Home Minister P Chidambaram today sought to reach out to them saying that the security of the country is a shared responsibility of the central and state governments.

"Security of the country is shared by the Centre and state governments. The Constitution of India assigns law and order to the state government and also assigns the Centre to protect the country against external aggression or internal disturbance," he said, speaking the inauguration of an NSG hub here, about 50 kms from Kolkata.

Chidambaram said the founding fathers of the Constitution were also wise when they made article 355. "That is why they made national security, internal security a shared responsibility."

"I have a responsibility to work with the states to quell terror, any militancy or rebellion," he said at the function, which was skipped by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Banerjee has joined over half-a-dozen Chief Ministers of non-Congress-ruled states in opposing the Centre's plan to create a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), claiming that it violated the federal provisions of the Constitution and was an attempt to usurp the states rights.

In his brief speech, Chidambaram did not refer to the controversy over the NCTC, nor did he make any comment on the Chief Ministers' opposition to it.

Making a point that the Centre did not discriminate between states on the basis of political parties that ruled governments there, Chidambaram said the Centre worked with the previous government in West Bengal and "we are happy to work with the new government."

Reaching out to Banerjee, he said the situation in Junglemahal created by the naxalites has been substantially controlled by the new government and the overall situation of the state has considerably improved.

"I want to compliment the West Bengal government that they have undertaken steps to considerably improve the situation," he said, adding "I am sure there will be greater improvement in the coming days."

"The government of India is happy to work with the state governments. We work with different political parties in troubled states like Odissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and West Bengal and none of the states are ruled by the Congress", Chidambaram said at the function also attended by Mukul Roy, Trinamool Congress General Secretary and Minister of State for Shipping.

"Our approach to terrorism, naxalism and insurgency is the same irrespective of the government ruling the states."

Chidambaram said the Centre wants the Kolkata hub to become a mini regional centre that also serves the states in the country's northeast.

"When the full facilities are created, the facilities in Kolkata will be double the facilities that are being created in, say Mumbai or in Chennai," he said.

Describing internal security as a "very complex" issue, Chidambaram said, "I can assure my colleagues Mukul Roy and others we will fully put down the naxal menace and rid Bengal of naxal menace."

"State and central agencies working together have brought a considerable improvement in the situation of West Bengal," he said.

Chidambaram said "we work with various political parties and we make no distinction between political parties. In fact, some of the states in India are troubled by Naxalism like Odissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, southern parts of Bihar and the Junglemahal area of West Bengal".

"As a member of the central government, I have the responsibility to work with the state governments, give them all the assistance that is required so that they can maintain law and order and quell militancy or rebellion," he said.

Chidambaram said that the Kolkata hub of NSG would serve the eastern and north eastern states. The other NSG hubs would be at Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai.

For the hub, 19 acres of land were given by AAI and Rs 38.21 crore spent for its construction done by NBCC, he said, adding that the possession of the land for the Rajarhat NSG hub would be made soon.

The state government had given 34 acres of land at Rajarhat at modest cost, he said.

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