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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chidambaram suggests bifurcation of Home Ministry

Union Minister P Chidambaram today suggested bifurcation of his Home Ministry, saying subjects not directly related to internal security should be dealt with by a separate ministry.

He also said the by the end of next year, the country will have a National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) which will exclusively deal with counter-terrorism.

The Home Minister said given the imperatives and the challenges of the times, a division of the current functions of the Ministry of Home Affairs is unavoidable.

"Subjects not directly related to internal security should be dealt with by a separate ministry or should be brought under a separate department in the MHA and dealt with by a minister, more or less independently, without referring every issue to the Home Minister.

"The Home Minister should devote the whole of his/her time and energy to matters relating to security," he said delivering Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture.

Referring to the proposed NCTC, Chidambaram said responsibility of such an authority will include preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place, and responding to a terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators.

"Such an organisation does not exist today and it has to be created from the scratch. I am told that the United States was able to do it within 36 months of September 11, 2001. India cannot afford to wait for 36 months. India must decide now to go forward and India must succeed in setting up the NCTC by the end of 2010," he said.

Chidambaram said once NCTC is set up, it must have a broad mandate to deal with all kinds of terrorist violence directed against the country and the people.

"While the nature of the response to different kinds of terror would indeed be different and nuanced, NCTC's mandate should be to respond to violence unleashed by any group – be it an insurgent group in the North East or the CPI (Maoist) in the heartland of India or any group of religious fanatics anywhere in India acting on their own or in concert with terrorists outside India.

"NCTC would, therefore, have to perform functions relating to intelligence, investigation and operations....But I am clear in my mind that, without 'operations', NCTC and the security architecture that is needed will be incomplete. It is the proposed 'operations' wing of the NCTC that will give an edge– now absent– to our plans to counter terrorism," he said.

The Home Minister said the MHA now performs a number of functions that have no direct relation to internal security which include a division dealing with freedom fighters though it does not have even a desk for dealing exclusively with forensic science.

"There are other divisions or desks that deal with centre-state relations....Disaster management, census etc. These are undoubtedly important functions and deserve close attention. However, internal security is an equally, if not more, important function that deserves the highest attention," he said

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