The National Counter Terrorism Centre that was earlier blocked by states like Gujarat, West Bengal and Odisha, is being revived, top officials of Ministry Home Affairs (MHA) have told HuffPost India.
The NCTC, mooted in the aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, was to be one-stop-counter-terror body of India. The proposed NCTC had powers to gather intelligence, carry out counter-terror operations and investigate terror attacks.
For this purpose, the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) – an intelligence sharing platform that operates under the Intelligence Bureau – and the National Investigative Agency (NIA) was to be subsumed into the NCTC. The NIA was to be restructured as the investigative arm of the NCTC and the MAC reorganized as the intelligence arm of the counter terror body.
State governments had been apprehensive of the investigative and operational powers of the NCTC and had therefore pointed to possible "political misuse" by the centre against the states. And, although the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Government toned down powers of NCTC, it failed to convince the states.
Those who opposed the NCTC then included West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, then Chief Minister of Gujarat and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Navin Patnaik.
Issues of law and order and policing are the domain of individual state governments as per the Constitution of India. Opposing the NCTC, the states had said the investigative powers of the body violated the federal structure of the Indian Constitution.
MHA sources said that NCTC will be under the Union Home Ministry. "We will try and convince states that they will be equal partners in combating terrorism," the officer said.
A mother database
The other crucial arm of the NCTC – the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) is also nearly complete, sources said. The NATGRID is a mother data base comprising 22 separate data bases like driving licences, passport details, bank accounts, income tax, foreign travel etc. is also ready. The NATGRID links all these data bases that are now kept separately.
There are concerns about the NATGRID, too. Opponents point to possible violation of privacy and misuse. "The NATGRID will manage and hold the data, they cannot access the data. The data can only be accessed by the investigative agencies," the officer said.
MHA sources said that the ministry will soon start process of moving the Union Cabinet. After the Union Cabinet clears the proposal, South Block will again have to start the process of getting states on board.