Chidambaram opens security hub, Mamata skips event (Second Lead)

February 18th, 2012 - 9:13 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Kolkata, Feb 18 (IANS) The country’s security is a shared responsibility between the central and state governments and the Congress-led federal government does not discriminate against states ruled by other parties, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Saturday at an event skipped by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Although Banerjee was invited, she didn’t turn up at the inauguration of the National Security Guard (NSG) hub at Badu, 12 km from the city airport in neighbouring North 24 Parganas district.

Chidambaram’s comments at the hub’s inauguration came a day after Trinamool Congress supremo Banerjee joined her counterparts from Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Bihar in opposing the just approved counter-terror intelligence hub National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), a brainchild of the union minister.

“Internal security is a very complex issue. The security of the country is a shared responsibility, it is a responsibility that is shared by the central government and the state governments,” Chidambaram said.

“The constitution of India, which assigns law and order and police to the state governments, has also assigned the (central government the) responsibility of protecting every part of India from external aggression or internal disturbance under article 355,” Chidambaram said.

Banerjee joined J. Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu, Naveen Patnaik of Odisha and Nitish Kumar of Bihar in raising concerns that the powers given to the NCTC would infringe upon the federal structure.

The powerful anti-terror agency, which proposes to integrate and analyse inputs on terror threats in India, derives powers from the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) that allows the central government agencies to make arrests or searches in terror-related cases.

“The founding fathers of the country have made the national security or internal security a shared responsibility. The government of India is happy in working with state governments. We work with state governments of different political parties and we make no distinction among the political parties,” Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram stated that the central government has shown no discrimination in helping some of the most troubled states in India like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar - which face the problem of Maoism.

“These states are not ruled by the Congress party, which I belong to, but as member of the central government I have a responsibility to work with state governments and give them all the assistance they require so that they can maintain law and order and quell militancy,” he said.

Chidambaram also praised the Trinamool-led state government for substantially controlling Maoist violence.

“Working together, I can assure that we can fully put down the Naxal menace and rid West Bengal of Naxalism. Our approach is the same to terrorism, insurgency irrespective of the nature of the threat and which government is in office. We work together with the states,” Chidambaram said.

He claimed that agencies of the central and state governments together had considerably improved the situation in tackling Maoist violence in West Bengal.

The minister said the NSG hub near Kolkata with 462 personnel would be the regional centre for eastern India.

Following the 2008 Mumbai attack, which showed the necessity for rapid response teams, the central government decided to station NSG contingents at permanent facilities in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

“The hub now has 241 personnel. But this hub in Kolkata, after it is augmented with additional facilities, that will be created in Rajarhat (on the city’s north eastern outskirts), will have 462 personnel,” he said.

The new NSG hub is set up on a plot of 19.75 acres given by the Airports Authority of India.

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