|Conditional support by NE CMs|
NEW DELHI, May 5 – Extending conditional support to creation of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled North Eastern States including Tarun Gogoi on Saturday cast a slightly dissenting note, opposing unilateral powers of search, seizure and arrest to Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS).
Though most of the Chief Ministers of North Eastern States by and large extended support, they expressed some reservations over some provisions of the proposed NCTC, opposing unilateral powers to the central agencies. One Chief Minister even pointed to complaints of human rights abuse because of similar provisions in the controversial Armed Forces Special powers Act, 1958.
Chief Minister of Nagaland, N Rio, a non-Congress leader did not attend the meeting.
Speaking to newsmen outside the venue of the Conference of Chief Ministers on National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Gogoi said that he supported the idea but with ‘special conditions’.
The Chief Minister explained that he was opposed to the central agencies having unilateral search and seizure powers. As far as possible there should be joint operations, he argued.
“If we mistrust each other then it will not work. If they doubt me that I am soft towards ULFA then I will also have some doubt that Centre would seize power,” he said.
“I am willing to support NCTC but with special conditions and far as possible they should take the States into confidence,” he said. “Even with the Army we want to conduct joint operations,” he added.
“I support but with special conditions that they should take States into confidence,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Nabam Tuki welcomed the setting up of NCTC, on the ground that it can take effective action across the State boundaries and analyse and share the actionable intelligence with the state police on the following reason for the interest of the nation:
“Arunachal Pradesh is a strategic border tribal state with very limited resources and infrastructure. Due to limited police force and vast uninhabited, difficult terrain, underground elements from across international borders and across neighbouring states’ boundaries seek to establish safe havens in our area and carry out extortions, kidnapping for ransom and other violent crimes.
“There is an urgent need for a comprehensive database of terrorists and their associates and overground workers especially in the North Eastern Region and I feel that the NCTC will be able to meet this need,” Tuki said.
On the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), he opined that it would be line with police practice, any person handed over to the police state by the NCTC be medically examined before being taken over by the police station.
He also opposed delegating investigation powers to NCTC, as has been envisaged. “We would suggest some linkage to be evolved between the NCTC and the NIA for such cases with the state police providing any additional resources,” he said.
Addressing the daylong meeting, Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh extended support to the proposal to set up NCTC but underlined the need to protect human rights of the citizens. He also suggested that NCTC officials should share their intelligence with state police and carry out joint operations.
“The arrested person should be handed over to the nearest police station and interrogated jointly. “A similar provision in the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 whereby security forces hand over apprehended persons to the state police has come under severe criticism for misuse and many cases of human abuse have been reported,” Ibobi pointed out.
Mizoram Chief Minister, Lal Thanhawla participating in the meeting supported setting up of NCTC and said that persons arrested by NCTC should be produced without unnecessary delay before the local police station. In addition, the provisions of Standing Council will also ensure that NCTC is the single and effective terrorism measures, without impairing in any manner the legal and federal structure and autonomy of the State to act on its own, he added.