Accusing the Centre of behaving like "Viceroys of yore", Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today said the constitution of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) is a conscious strategy to cast the Centre as an "omnipresent" ruler with states portrayed as dependent vassals. Underlining that the fight against terror requires clear vision and a strong political will, Mr Modi said there was a need to carry along all constituents of federal polity and build a conscious view in finalising the strategy to fight it.
"Piecemeal approach with disjointed efforts will not lead us to the desired goal. Without comprehensively reviewing our past efforts and actions we would go on creating agencies and organisations and yet fail to achieve the purpose," he said. He accused the Centre of changing the "well-defined and constitutionally mandated" boundaries of Centre-state relations and said there was a disturbing sequence of events in the recent past which revealed "centralists and autocratic mindset that militates against all canons of federalism."
"Be it proposed amendments to the Railway Protection Act, the Border Security Force Act, and the Limited competitive Examination issue and so on, the Union Government has behaved in a manner which reminds us of Viceroys of yore," he said.
He said NCTC may look like a hasty and ill-conceived move but in the backdrop of recent events in our "body-politic" assumes significance as a conscious strategy to pursue "certain hidden goal". He said, "the assertions and assumptions on which the NCTC has been crafted, casts the Centre in the role of omnipresent, omniscient ruler with the states portrayed like dependent vassals, belittling the states which are today the real engines of India's progress."
He urged the Centre to "come to terms with current political realities and change its mindset" of seeking to capture political space through devious executive mechanisms."
He said creation of an omnipotent covert agency would revive the memories of the dark days of Emergency when intelligence agencies were misused to subjugate popular movements and intimidate political rivals. "NCTC will do a signal disservice to the IB by distorting its original mandate; what may emerge is a mutated version which could be like Frankenstein's monster," he said.
The Chief Minister said an insidious interpretation of section 43A section 2(e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to give police powers to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) is an attempt to secure a "back door entry for this concept of Federal crime, by-passing the rigorous scrutiny envisaged for any measure that modifies the Constitutional scheme".
He said the government has overlooked provisions of seventh schedule of the Constitution (Article) which vests the responsibility of the public order, police and administration to the state and makes them answerable to the people for their safety and security.
"It is observed that whenever a serious incident takes place in any state, considering the party in power in that state, different statements are issued. Often it is said that the state government was warned of the ensuing event or sometimes it is stated that it is the responsibility of the state government to deal with the situation," he said.
The Chief Minister said the state governments must be strengthened and supported in the fight against terror. He said while the Centre was claiming that NCTC is inspired from US and UK, it failed to notice strong legal mechanisms adapted by them to tackle terrorism post 9/11 and instead gone ahead to repeal existing anti-terror laws like POTA.
"The UPA Government of 2004 repealed POTA depriving the country of the legal shield to fight terror and today it seeks to use the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to create NCTC through back door, thereby depriving states their rightful role," he said.
Highlighting the multiplicity of organisations in countering terrorism, Mr Modi said, "National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created to deal with scheduled offences affecting different states. Within a short span we are coming out with NCTC. Similarly MAC and SMAC were set up to strengthen our intelligence system and now we feel that these mechanisms are inadequate and want that all the intelligence agencies be subsumed in IB."
The Chief Minister also alleged that NCTC might bring covert working of the Intelligence Bureau in the open. "<i>'Guptchar'</i> as the very connotation suggests, its essential quality is of being secret...The IB being such a <i>'Guptchar Vibhag'</i> has been the premier and nodal intelligence agency of the country. Does the Union Government want to break this system and make intelligence an <i>'Open-char vibhag'</i> which will be on display at every junction like a <i>police chowki</i>," he said.
Warning the Centre of collateral damages which may arise from the operations of NCTC, Modi said that in such operations there is a high probability of collateral damages, causing deaths or injuries to innocent persons, having political overtones. The Chief Minister said the agency is likely to be incapable of operating and delivering results unless the local police are fully co-opted.
"In the NCTC, we see a curious case wherein an entirely new organization is sought to be created in the guise of operationalising the provision for a 'Designated Authority'. This goes against the spirit, if not the letter, of the legislation as well as established practices," he said.
Mr Modi also said that the IB, though placed under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is outside the scope of Parliamentary oversight and the RTI Act. "The creation of NCTC increases the possibility of violation of democratic rights due to co-existence in a single Agency of covert capabilities and direct operational capacities," he said.
He also said that the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) is at the core of any effective counter-terrorism strategy and it is the local police which is the fulcrum for generating and gathering it.