Revive plans to set up NCTC: Par panel tells govt

Revive plans to set up NCTC: Par panel tells govt

Citing the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, a parliamentary panel has asked the government to revive the plans to set up a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) by building a consensus among all stakeholders.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, said the larger issue of national security should be given paramount importance and the ministry should take a lead role in bringing all states on board with regard to the structure, functions, mandate and utility of creating and operationalisation of NCTC as a single, unified and premier counter-terror agency.

In its report, submitted to the Rajya Sabha recently, the Committee said Article 355 of the Constitution casts a duty upon the central government to protect every state against external aggression and internal disturbance.

This duty assumes more importance in the present scenario where terrorism, insurgency and Left Wing Extremism have affected almost every state in the country, it said.

The Committee noted that there were agencies such as the National Investigation Agency, the Intelligence Bureau, the Multi-Agency Centre and the National Security Guard and some in the pipeline like the NATGRID that are cumulatively capable of addressing these menaces, but there was no single unified authority to coordinate the operations of these agencies and ensure a quick response in times of crisis like the 26/11 attacks.

"The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry should immediately revive the idea of the NCTC as a single, unified counter-terrorism agency and re-issue the notification laying down the power, functions and duties of NCTC," it said.

The panel said it understood that several states have objected to the NCTC and other agencies also might have reservations, but the larger issue of national security should be given paramount importance.

The idea behind setting up of an anti-terror hub such as the NCTC was conceived by Chidambaram as the then Home minister soon after the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 which claimed 166 lives.

However, the move was opposed by several chief ministers, including Narendra Modi as the then Gujarat chief minister, alleging that such a structure will interfere with the functioning of state security agencies and it would be a threat to the federal structure of the country.

Even though the central government made several efforts to evolve a consensus by initiating talks with state governments, it received no response.

The operationalisation of the NCTC has been kept in abeyance since 2013 even though the then prime minister had discussed the issue at a conference of the chief ministers in that year.

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