Fight against terror must co-exist with federalism: Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley

Amid stiff opposition from Opposition-ruled states to the proposed NCTC, the BJP today said the fight against terror must co-exist with federalism and it was meaningless to debate the "imaginary federalism versus terrorism" issue.

"The fight against terrorism can and must co-exist with federalism. It would be meaningless to debate an imaginary 'federalism versus terrorism' issue," party leader Arun Jaitley said in response to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's plea for setting up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

"There could be no possible objection to a National Counter Terrorism Centre but its powers and jurisdictions must be within the constitutional framework.

"Collecting cross-border intelligence and keeping an eye on the activities of those who foment trouble from outside is exclusively within the domain and the capacity of the central government," he said.

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said the NCTC is proposed to be set up under the Intelligence Bureau and intelligence agencies should not get into police powers.

He cited the example of the American NCTC which deals with only strategic planning and the integration of intelligence without any operational involvement and it is the joint terrorism analysis centre that plays a coordinating role.

"The Indian proposal is to have an agency which will have the intelligence functions and would also conduct operations. It is this power being vested in an intelligence agency to the detriment of the law and order powers of the state which the state governments are rightly objecting to.

"It would be dangerous to vest the powers of search, seizure and arrest i.e. the operational powers to an intelligence agency," he said.

Jaitley also criticised the functioning of Intelligence Bureau, saying it has focused more on political activities rather than those of national security.

"Of late, the IB as an important national resource has shifted its focus predominantly from security related activities to political and quasi-political activities. I am strongly of the opinion that this tendency has to be curtailed.

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