New Delhi: Chief Ministers Jayalalithaa, Naveen Patnaik, Prakash Singh Badal and Nitish Kumar reached Delhi early on Saturday morning for the meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). The leaders were headed to Vigyan Bhawan for the meeting.
Sources said that almost all chief ministers, including Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi and Akhilesh Yadav, were demanding rollback of the NCTC.
Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata allegedly said that the primary role of the central government was to provide funds and logistical support and that West Bengal deserved special dispensation in that regard.
"I would urge the central government to grant special allocation for West Bengal," she said.
Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said, "It is high time we re-established a bond of confidence that will be our true shield against terror. I urge rollback of the NCTC... The government must come up with comprehensive action plan to fight terror."
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said that since the NIA had already been enacted with jurisdiction throughout India for the purpose of the UAPA, there was no reason for authorising the NCTC to act under section 43A of the UAPA.
Karnataka CM Sadananda Gowda opposed the setting up of the counter-terrorism agency saying that it intruded into state powers. "The NCTC intrudes into states' powers. We are apprehensive that officers of the NCTC could first arrest, search and seize and simply inform local police officers stating that they were authorised to do so by the Director of the NCTC. This should be avoided."
Nearly three months after the Union Home Ministry notified setting up of the NCTC, its fate still hangs in balance.
Even though the Union Home Ministry sent a revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Saturday's meet, the government's own allies appeared far from convinced.
"Every state has a geographical boundary. No one can cross anyone's boundaries. So the Centre cannot cross our boundaries. This is against federal structure," Mamata said.
The main bone of contention between the Centre and the states is Section 43A which grants the NCTC the power to unilaterally search, seize and arrest.
The CMs say that law and order is a state subject and a central body like the NCTC cannot carry out arrests without the state police.
In a climbdown, the revised SOP of the Home Ministry says that only in exceptional circumstances, will the NCTC carry out unilateral arrests. For all other routine actions, the state DGP or the head of the ATS will be kept in the loop.
Sources say that the BJP may reconsider its opposition after the amendments.