New Delhi, May 5 (IBNS): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the government has assured the Chief Ministers, who attended a crucial meeting on National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), that their suggestions on the issue will be 'considered'.
"I have assured the chief ministers that all their suggestions will be considered," Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting here on Saturday.
Chidambaram said three chief ministers 'outrightly rejected' the NCTC.
"As expected some chief ministers strongly supported it, some gave qualified support and there were outright rejections by three chief ministers," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram said he 'firmly' believed that the country needs a counter-terrorism body in some form or the other.
Earlier, at the meeting on Saturday, the Home Minister said counter-terrorism is a shared responsibility of the State and the Centre government.
Speaking at the meeting, Chidambaram said: "Countering terrorism is a shared responsibility of the Central Government and the State Governments."
"The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was passed by Parliament in 1967. No one has questioned the validity of the Act. After the horrific attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, there was an universal demand for strengthening the laws dealing with terrorism. Since Parliament was in session, it was decided to act without loss of time," he said.
Chidambaram said the NCTC will be an important pillar of the new security architecture.
"That given Indiaís 7516 km coastline, 15,106 km of international borders with seven countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar) and a number of international gateways, State Anti-Terrorist Forces would have to necessarily work with a number of agencies of the Central Government, especially when there are threats in the domain of sea, air and space," he said.
He said terrorist threats in the cyber space have emerged as the fifth domain after land, sea, air and space.
"Much of our critical infrastructure lies in cyber space. Cyber crimes such as hacking, financial fraud, data theft, espionage etc. would, in certain circumstances, amount to terrorist acts," he said.
Chidambaram said: "Our counter terrorism (CT) capacity must be able to meet the threats in cyber space. Since there are no boundaries in cyber space, how will the Central Government and the State Governments share the responsibility to face the threats in cyber space?"
"We have circulated two Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs). One deals with the functions and powers of the Standing Council and the other deals with the Operations Division of the NCTC.
"I sincerely hope that the two SoPs would address all the concerns raised by some Chief Ministers in their letters to the Prime Minister and the issues flagged by the Directors General of Police at the meeting convened by the Home Secretary on March 12, 2012," he added.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday chaired the meeting of Chief Ministers, hoping to find common ground that will settle a standoff over the upcoming NCTC.
However, several Chief Ministers including Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa slammed the Centre over the issue.
Jayalalithaa said the NCTC at its present form will be more damaging to fighting terrorism.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi equally criticized the Centre and said it was behaving like the 'Viceroys of yore'.
He said Centre was trying to be the 'omnipresent' ruler by setting up of the NCTC.
Cleared by the union cabinet in February, the NCTC proposal was intended to bolster the security architecture of the country to fix gaping holes in the nationís anti-terror machinery exposed by the 2008 Mumbai attacks, that killed 166 people and wounded over 300.