Omar opposes NCTC, likens it with AFSPA

Omar opposes NCTC, likens it with AFSPA

5 May 2012
The Daily Excelsior


NEW DELHI: Congress ally National Conference today articulated its reservations over the Centre’s NCTC stating the present form makes it as stringent as the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Turning down the proposal in a polite manner, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also pointed out that the issues raised during the meeting of various State officials chaired by Union Home Secretary R K Singh last month have not been incorporated in the new draft circulated by the Centre. Omar said the proposal in the NCTC for handing over the arrested persons and seized material to the nearest police station 'as soon as possible' makes it 'almost as stringent as the existing provision available under AFSPA.' 'This is likely to have far reaching consequences in our State which is politically sensitive. We have been advocating for revocation of AFSPA and it has been welcomed by all shades of people in the State', he said. Therefore, 'mandating the NCTC with such powers may run counter to our efforts towards the removal of AFSPA at least from certain areas, and can generate avoidable criticism', Abdullah said. Speaking at the Chief Ministers Conference chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Omar suggested that the NCTC should assume the role of a coordinating agency, instead of controlling or prescribing counter terrorism priorities for each stakeholder. The power of arrest and search should remain with the local police only, the Chief Minister said. 'The power of arrest and search to be conducted independently without the State police being a part of the exercise may result in overlapping of responsibilities of the law enforcing agencies and can have local operational sensitivities especially, in the context of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir', he said. Omar said the Unified Headquarters in the State enunciated an SOP for operations under which Army and Security Force Units engage in operational searches and cordons with the State police being associated with it. 'We can have similar arrangements for the NCTC,' he said. 'The management of events after the conduct of operations is as important as the operation itself. The State police knows the background, topography and problems of the people with bearings on the security of the State,' Omar said. He warned that independent operations by the NCTC without involving the State police can cause serious law and order concerns which will have to be borne by the local administration. 'It may, therefore, be advisable for NCTC to have prior consultation with an officer designated for this purpose by the State Government before launching its operation or undertaking arrests', he said. NCTC may also provide technical assistance in terms of communication interception and financial investigation to the State police and also provide legal help by way of monitoring and prosecuting persons who are involved in crime in more than one State. The proposed body could also consider devising an institutional mechanism to look at the external dimensions of terrorism and consider apprehending, prosecuting and bringing to justice the terrorist leaders who are taking shelter in other countries, the Chief Minister said. He said the amendments should include that the Director of NCTC should consult the State Director General of Police before launching any operation in the State. Though the State welcomed the role of ‘Collection and Dissemination of Intelligence’ and its ‘Analysis’ by the proposed NCTC, Omar said, the need for vesting it with the powers to undertake independent Operations could be revisited so as to make it consultative. Omar said terrorism was a global problem and created a sense of insecurity and instability and a loss of confidence in the ability of the established institutions to protect the common man. 'As terrorism manifests in different forms, our endeavours and strategies to curb terrorism cannot be individualistic but have to be cohesive, collective and united, so as to achieve the ultimate objective of a terror free country. 'We have to ensure that our responses to fighting terrorism are not episodic and our approach has to be crafted in a manner that it complements and synergies the efforts of all the stakeholders rather than supplanting them', he added. Omar said while there has been an improvement in the overall security situation, the threat to peace has not completely vanished. 'We, therefore, cannot commit the mistake of being complacent as anti-national elements are waiting for opportunities to thwart the peace and development process', he asserted.