NEW DELHI, May 5 (MIC): Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh expressed the need to care for the human rights of the citizens of the country while setting up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).
Speaking at the Conference of the Chief Ministers on National Counter Terrorism Centre at Vigyan Bhavan here today Manipur Chief Minister said, “It is the bounden duty of the Government to protect the basic human rights of our people while granting unbounded powers to arrest under section 43A of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.”
He suggested that the NCTC officials should share the intelligence with the State Police and carry out operations for arresting and detaining any person suspected of indulging in terrorist activities. The person arrested should be handed over to the nearest police station and interrogated jointly.
He further stated, “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 rights abuse have been reported.”
Manipur Chief Minister said that the State Government was in-agreement with the Union Government’s decision to set up the NCTC as an institutional mechanism for independent and autonomous collection of counter terrorism intelligence and to take firm and timely action for tackling terrorism and terror related activities of subversive and anti-national elements.
Referring to Manipur the Chief Minister said, “We, in Manipur, are facing a serious Internal Security challenge posed by a multitude of militant groups indulging in subversive and anti-national activities and terrorizing out people for extortions, kidnappings for ransom, threat and intimidation to our officials and contractors engaged in the development process. The extortions by the NSCN (IM) cadres from transporters along our National Highways are rampant despite the deployment of Security Forces and the State Police personnel. Work on national projects like the Railway Line from Jiribam to Tupul and Imphal has been seriously hampered by demands from the militants for extortion money.”
He further stated, “The porous India-Myanmar border, scantily guarded by the Assam Rifles, enables the militant groups to induct sophisticated arms and ammunition undetected. These arms and ammunitions are used for threats and intimidation of contractors, suppliers, engineers and officials to extort money. Almost no one in the State is left untouched by this malaise which impacts adversely on our ability to implement development and welfare schemes to our people.”
“In the given internal security scenario, the role of intelligence and an institutionalized and effective means of generating and sharing Intelligence on a real time basis is an absolute necessity”, he added.
Referring to NCTC, Manipur Chief Minister pointed out that under section 2(e) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the State Home Secretary was notified as the “Designated Authority”. As such, Manipur Chief Minister disagreed with the MHA’s proposal to confer such powers on the Heads of Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) as it took away the element of independent assessment and rendered the State Govt. to the margins. The primary responsibility should remain that of the State Government, he added. He made the suggestion that all such operations should be undertaken jointly with the State Police.
He drew the attention to para 3.4 of the Memorandum constituting NCTC empowering it to requisition the services of the National Security Guards (NSG) or any other Special Forces. He opined that it would be appropriate for NCTC to obtain State Governments’ concurrence in all such cases.
However, he endorsed the proposal to constitute a Standing Council with representation from all the States. As laid out, it would be able to evolve ways and means to ensure coordination of all counter terrorism measures and synergy in response. Setting-up of Special Teams to pursue specific Intelligence inputs or targets involving more than one State would be useful when dealing with organizations active across State borders, he added.
He believed that the NCTC was a credible step in the direction to provide institutional capability to negate and neutralize terrorist and anti-national forces from within and outside the country.
Manipur Home Minister Gaikhangam, Chief Secretary D.S.Poonia and Director General of Police Ratnakar Baral also attended in the conference.
In his inaugural address, the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “Terrorism is today one of the most potent threats to our national security. There can be no disagreement on putting in place an effective counter terrorism regime with efficient mechanisms and response systems both at the national level and at the State level. Neither the states nor the Centre can fulfill this task alone. The closest cooperation and coordination is therefore necessary to meet the threats that emanate from within and outside our borders.”
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that counter terrorism is a shared responsibility to make the country safer and more secure for which the country needs to work together.
Union Defence Minister AK Antony and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullappally Ramachandran also took part in the day-long conference.