The government of India is very keen to make the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) operational from March, 2012 itself. But several state governments have strongly opposed the move, as they were not consulted on the subject even as “law & Order and Police” is their Executive responsibility under the Constitution of India.There is genuine suspicion about the intentions of the government of India in making the NCTC as another unit of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which functions under the Home Minister and reports to the Prime Minister too. There exists so much trust deficit between the Ruling Coalition (UPA) and the Opposition Parties, some of whom have been running successfully governments in several states, that every such move is put through the magnifying glass before condescending to its promulgation. Misuse of authority by Governors in those states being common, there is full justification for it. It gets further strengthened by the justification of every act of omission and commission of the ministers by the Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh in the name of “coalition compulsion”. It has eroded all moral authority of the government to rule any longer. The worst is when instead of taking decisive action, as he is under oath to do so when matters of state are brought to his notice officially, he has been evasive to such an extent that his office advises the ministry concerned “to keep the PM at an arm’s length”! The NCTC has been empowered to carry out search & seizures, wherever necessary. The people have suffered uncounted miseries at the hands of the barbaric police atrocities during the black Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, due to such draconian powers in their hands. If they suspect foul intentions of a weak government to empower the police again with such powers, they have reason to do so. The Government of India has miserably failed to win the confidence of the people or the political parties or the states in this matter. Besides, there is no guarantee that the incumbent Home Minister or the Prime Minister may not get changed in preparation of the forthcoming General Elections in 2014. If the UPA gets intelligence from the IB & other sources that it is going to suffer certain defeat, a nasty member of the cabinet might be made the hatchet man to ensure return to power by fair or foul means. Misuse of NCTC power by such elements can destroy the very basis of democracy in the country by sabotaging the very basic structure of the Constitution of India, as was done during the Emergency. The Shah Commission and other Emergency Excesses Commissions’ Reports have only been buried deep and no action taken so far, none of the guilty punished. Unfortunately, the smart ones managed to get rewarded by way of improved service careers and post retirement sinecures. Let us, then, analyse the issue further.
First, where is such a great hurry to operationalise the NCTC? Terror is not going to increase in the next 24 months before elections to the new Lok Sabha in 2014. If this government has successfully (???) countered terror without an NCTC in the past 8 years of its glorious (!!!) rule, it can remain in total confidence that it shall achieve the same success. Mumbai Taj incident/New Delhi bomb incident are unlikely to be repeated !! When terror is going to continue to be simply “unlawful activity” (under The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) even after the operationalisation of the NCTC, it can be dealt with under the same police arrangements under the same laws. Why does the media term it as “attack/terror attack” when the law does not consider it anything more than an “unlawful activity”? It is just an activity, nothing more, nothing less, even as it is unlawful. Hence the consequences flowing from such activity are mere “incident” in legalese and diplomacy, not attack (incidents at the border are different from terror activities). This government is so afraid of the terrorists that it refuses to opt for any hard line. Rather it, along with its friendly media, targets anybody who dares take on the terrorists strongly or is livid about such anti-national elements. They even question the very right to nationalism of the speaker on the ground that they alone can’t claim exclusive right to nationalism. For every terror incident, they demand judicial inquiry, even as they do not hesitate to pronounce their judgement in advance, suggesting that nothing less than that will be acceptable to them. However, they do nothing when scores of ordinary citizens are killed by terrorists. Unfortunately, the linguistic discrimination made by the judges in dealing with these cases betrays their desire for populism and treading the politically correct path, even though justice may go to hell and the nation may get further divided. The tendentious reporting of such judicial pronouncement in the media becomes a political propaganda under the guise of observations of the court.
To counter terror one needs to be clear in mind, have resolute political will, workable plan, powers and honesty of purpose. Is it there? Even if the NCTC is in place, neither the incumbent Home Minister nor the Prime Minister will be able to make a millimeter of effective move in countering terror. The terrorist, pushed by the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) from Pakistan & even Bangaladesh are mostly persons belonging to a religion marked as “minority” in India. This is vote bank politics for the Congress and several other political parties. They prefer silence for fear of losing votes of the adherents of a particular religion in elections and make it sound like their commitment to communal harmony and social peace. Our government, political parties, religious & social leaders, civil society- all prefer an ostrich for the Lions of India’s national emblem and have failed to develop any “strategy” to deal with this problem on a sustained & long term basis. This problem shall keep us engaged so long as Pakistan remains on the global map. Hence, the Government should first develop such a strategic paper and then only devise the right mechanism, commensurate with the challenge before us. Tokenisms like the NCTC are born failed and shall only embolden the terrorists and their handlers further. If terror is “attack”, it has to be met with equal and effective answer.
The NCTC is no match for it. Let this government start the work on the strategy paper and the next Lok Sabha legislate.