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Terror centre out of IB

New Delhi, July 12: Union home minister P. Chidambaram has agreed to take the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre out of the Intelligence Bureau, bowing to pressure from Mamata Banerjee and other chief ministers, sources said today.

Further, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) will have to give up one of its arms, the Multi-Agency Centre which coordinates intelligence from various agencies, to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

“The Multi-Agency Centre will be brought under the NCTC,” a source said today.

At the May 5 chief ministers’ meeting, Mamata had described the IB as “a secret intelligence organisation without legislative accountability”. She had said the NCTC’s location within it would enable IB sleuths to intrude into states’ jurisdiction and carry out “grave misuse of the powers of arrest, search and seizures given to the IB through the NCTC”.

Many other chief ministers including some from the Congress had echoed the fear, and Nitish Kumar had written at least two letters to Chidambaram stressing the need to curb the IB’s powers.

After the May 5 meeting, Chidambaram had said the NCTC could be a “standalone” body, implying it could be taken out of the IB.

Sources said such a decision had now been taken at the highest level although the final seal was still awaited from the cabinet committee on security, which could not meet as scheduled today.

The NCTC director will now report directly to the Union home ministry rather than the IB. Under the original plan, the director was to be an officer of additional director rank from the IB, reporting to the director of the intelligence agency.

“The officer will now be deputed from the IB to the NCTC and will report to the home ministry directly,” a senior ministry official said.

The Centre expects the diluted NCTC to be largely acceptable to the states and is not planning a fresh meeting with the chief ministers.

Many in the security agencies, though, are disappointed at what they see is a dilution of the NCTC’s role and powers. “It will now be a parody of what it was expected to be,” a former IB official said.