Hard decisions will have to be taken: Chidambaram on NCTC

New Delhi, May 6: Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said the government will take a “hard decision” on the controversial National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) given the terror threats the country faces.

“Hard decisions have to be taken. Our decision cannot be based upon our past experience alone, because the past does not contain any indicators,” Chidambaram said in his concluding remarks at Saturday’s chief ministers’ conference on the anti-terror agency that has almost been dumped due to opposition from many state governments.

“Some risks have to be taken, some calibrated steps have to be taken. But given the nature of threats we face, we must take hard decisions,” he told the chief ministers in his concluding address the transcription of which was released to the media Sunday.

Chidambaram said he was still with “an open mind” to consider all suggestions that came during the daylong meeting.

He said he was ready to reconsider the issue of having the proposed NCTC out of the ambit of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) – one of the sticking points that have blocked the formation of an all-powerful anti-terror intelligence hub.

The home minister said it was not he who had proposed that the NCTC should be located in the IB.

This, he said, was decided by the group of ministers that made its recommendation in 2001 after the Kargil war.

“I didn’t propose that the NCTC should be located in the IB. In fact, the new security architecture was certainly more ambitious but did not propose that it should be located in the IB,” Chidambaram said.

He said a number of speakers had pointed queried the need to have the NCTC located in the IB. “Certainly this matter deserves re-examination and we will certainly re-examine it,” the home minister said.

Despite opposition from majority of the chief ministers against the NCTC, Chidambaram said the creation of a single agency to coordinate counter-terrorism operations across the country was “absolutely necessary” to fill the gap in India’s fight against terror.

“We need to move beyond looking upon counter terrorism as a police operation and enlarge our scope to make it a truly counter terrorism organisation that will mobilise all elements of national power.”

He said while India’s anti-terror operations have met with “significant success” in the past three years but there have also been the “cases of failure”.

“Why did we fail? We failed mainly because of lack of capacity; sometimes we failed because of a lack of timely decision…we cannot afford to fail. The adversary can fail ninety nine out of hundred times but the governments cannot afford to fail even once out of hundred times.”

He stressed on getting over the “weaknesses arising out of lack of capacity, the weaknesses arising out of lack of timely decision” and pitched hard for the NCTC or “any other organization or any similar organization with whatever powers will fill this gap”.

He said operational powers would be given to the NCTC only in “exceptional circumstances”.

“I recognise that a number of (state governments) are not still satisfied and they want more safeguards on this and those who gave qualified support (to the NCTC) are not satisfied with the safeguards that are built in. So this requires greater reflection,” he said.