NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday indicated that the annual meeting of Chief Ministers on April 16 may be extended to discuss setting up of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) as demanded by some of the non-Congress ruled states.
After presenting his ministry's monthly report, Chidambaram told reporters that he welcomes a debate on the issue. "I am glad that there will be a debate and I sincerely hope that it will be a debate based on the Constitution, laws in force and the very healthy convention that has been built over the last 65 years," he said.
Asked about the letter written by UPA's ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking for devoting time for NCTC issue at the conference, the Home Minister said that he would soon get a copy of the same.
Please remember that the Chief Ministers conference on internal security is an annual affair. It was initially convened for February 15, 2012. The NCTC question came up in March. The February 15 meeting was postponed because of the election and Parliament session to April 16.
"But I think it is important that all issues of the agenda are discussed. How we will accommodate the request of the Chief Ministers to devote a considerable amount of time to discuss the NCTC subject, it is a matter that will be resolved, I think, in the next couple of days," he said. Asked whether there was a possibility of extending the day long meeting to two days, he said, "That will depend on the convenience of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers. But that is an option."
Odisha to take call on rescuing hostages: Chidambaram
NEW DELHI: The Centre today said Odisha government was rightly talking to the Maoists for the safe release of an abducted Italian and an MLA and any decision on using force to rescue them has to be taken by the state. Home Minister P Chidambaram said the only course available to Odisha government was to hold negotiations with the extremists for the safe release of the two hostages.
"There are two people in captivity so the state government is right in appointing interlocutors to talk to the CPI (Maoists) or any other group that may have abducted the persons," he said at a press conference here. Chidambaram steered clear of the issue of carrying out any offensive against the abductors to rescue the Italian tour operator and the ruling BJD MLA.
"If you are suggesting that some action should be taken using security forces, that is not a matter to be discussed in the public. And that is a decision the state government has to take having regard to all the facts and circumstances. They are the best judge of that," he said. The Home Minister said he and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik have spoken to each other several times and the Home Ministry officials are in regular touch with the Odisha government officials to ease the situation.
"I have offered him (Patnaik) any assistance that he may require.... The Chief Minister has acknowledged that his officers and Government of India officers are in constant touch with each other. They did not ask for any specific assistance. They of course have asked for sharing of any intelligence and as you know intelligence is being shared on daily basis and sometimes it has been shared more than once," he said. Asked whether it was not contrary to the central government's stand (that it would talk to the extremists once they abjure violence) by engaging with the Maoists now, Chidambaram said "it is not that we don't speak until they abjure violence. We have made them an offer for talks and we said please come for talks". "The condition is that while we talk, they should not indulge in violence. They have rejected that offer. The onus is upon them to say that while we welcome the talks, while we are talking, there should not be any violence. Is that an unreasonable stipulation? While the government of India or state government engages the CPI (Maoists) in talks, surely there should be no violence," he said.
Cancellation of historian''s visa to be reviewed: Home Minister
Home Minister P Chidambaram will review the decision on cancellation of the visa of a US historian Peter Heehs, living in Puducherry, and will take a decision on it by Monday.
Heehs was asked to leave the country after he had spent nearly four decades while working on a project of digitisation and archival of works of freedom fighter and spiritual leader Sri Aurobindo. "This (decision to cancel the visa) was noticed by me this morning and I understand that the FRRO Puducherry passed the order. I have asked for a suo motu review and am told that the file would be submitted to me on Monday and I will take a decision on Monday," Chidambaram told reporters after presenting the monthly report of his ministry.
The American historian, who is an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, was told by the Regional Registration Office at Puducherry that his visa will not be extended. Some historians had protested against the move of cancelling his visa and had also petitioned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram for reconsideration of decision.
Rajoana''s mercy petition to be examine: PC
The Home Ministry will examine on merit the mercy petition of Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced to death for assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, and it will be submitted to the President for a final decision.
Home Minister P Chidambaram said Rajoana's mercy petition filed by Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee has come to the Home Ministry two days ago and has been added to the list of mercy petitions of condemned prisoners. "We will examine it on merit and submit to the President of India," he said.
Chidambaram said execution of a condemned prisoner has to be stayed once a mercy petition is filed before the President and it should be kept in abeyance till a decision is taken on the prayer. He said guidelines in this regard were very clear. Once a mercy petition is filed on behalf of a sentenced prisoner, the sentence cannot be executed unless there is a decision on the mercy petition.
"So, when we got the copy of the mercy petition (of Rajoana) from the President's Secretariat, we immediately drew the attention of the government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and the instructions. "By drawing the attention of government of Punjab to the standing guidelines and instructions, does not mean the Home Ministry is expressing any opinion on the merits of the mercy petition," he said.