New Delhi, Feb 29: The Centre today convened a high-level meeting on March 9 on the NCTC hoping it will find a way forward on the controversial issue but fresh road-blocks appeared with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik opposing the conference of top state officials.
Addressing a press conference, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the Home Secretary has convened a meeting of Chief Secretaries, Directors General of Police, Chiefs of state Anti-Terror Squads to allay the apprehensions on the counter-terror body.
“I am confident that this meeting will find a way forward. My note is self explanatory. I think the note should, I believe, have allayed many of the apprehensions including apprehensions of a section of the media and therefore let us hope that the meeting convened by the Home Secretary will find a way forward,” he said.
Asked whether he would be conducting a similar exercise by meeting Chief Ministers of various states, he said this would depend upon the meeting that is being convened.
“All I said in my letter is that before we take the next step I have asked the Home Secretary to call a meeting...so let's wait for the meeting,” he said.
Patnaik, who spearheaded protests by over a dozen Chief Ministers on the issue of setting up of National Counter Terrorism Centre on the ground that it would erode states' powers, today wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the government calling the meeting of top state officials.
“I am disappointed to find, Sir, that a meeting has been called by the Union Home Secretary with state directors general of police (DGPs),” Patnaik wrote to the Prime Minister.
Maintaining that the NCTC issue was raised by several Chief Ministers including himself, Patnaik said: “The matter relates to national security, terrorism and extremism which require deliberation with us at the highest level. All of us know about the effects of terrorism, the clear examples of which are attacks in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangaluru.
“It is imperative that instead of a meeting chaired by the Union Home Secretary, an immediate meeting of Chief Ministers may be called by you to address the concerns of the states on this very urgent matter regarding the security of the nation,” he said.
Referring to the letter to him on February 21 on the functions of the NCTC, Patnaik said that the Prime Minister had assured that the Union Home Minister would suitably address the issues raised by Chief Ministers.
“I have now received a letter dated 24th February, 2012 from the Union Home Minister saying that the Home Secretary, Government of India, will call a meeting of DGPs and other concerned officers of the state governments to discuss the functions of NCTC,” he said.
Facing a barrage of questions over the opposition from various state governments, Chidambaram said that he has been patient since November 2009 when the anti-terror body was conceptualised.
“I am a very patient man, I have been patient since November, 2009 and I am willing to be patient for some more time,” he said.
Replying to a question as to how long he would be patient, he quipped “as long as it is necessary”.