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NCTC: Mamata to skip meet, other CMs to attend

New Delhi: All non-Congress chief ministers, barring Mamata Banerjee, who had come together to oppose the Centre on the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and other issues, will be attending tomorrow`s CMs` conference on internal security called by the government.

Strengthening of counter terror capabilities and intelligence apparatus, Maoist violence, police reforms and capacity building will be high on agenda at the meeting to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The central government has already conceded the demand of several non-Congress chief ministers, including ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, to hold a special meeting of CMs to exclusively discuss on the controversial issue of NCTC on May 5 and so the matter is unlikely to figure prominently at the day-long meet.

Sources in Kolkata today said Banerjee will not attend tomorrow`s chief ministers` meeting and Finance Minister Amit Mitra will represent West Bengal government. However, she will take part in the CMs` meeting on NCTC. No reason has been assigned for the West Bengal Chief Minister`s decision. The conference will also be attended by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Odisha`s Naveen Patnaik, Bihar`s Nitish Kumar and their Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi who have been vocal in their opposition to the NCTC.

Apart from the nine NDA CMs, Uttar Pradesh`s Akhilesh Yadav and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would be among those present at the meet that deliberate on how India is being affected due to its troubled neighbourhood and its obvious consequences in the country like cross border terrorism, covert support to insurgents, arms smuggling, circulation of fake Indian currency, inflow of refugees and immigration, official sources said.

The conference, originally scheduled for February 15, had to be postponed for two months due to the recent Assembly elections in five states and Budget Session of Parliament. Active terror infrastructure in Pakistan, growing nexus between the Naxals and anti-India forces both within the country as well as abroad, better intelligence sharing among security forces, Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & System (CCTNS), border management, coastal security and other Centre-State issues will also figure prominently at the meeting where Home Minister P Chidambaram will deliver the opening address.

A separate session on Maoist violence will be held later in the day and will be attended by Chief Ministers of nine Maoist violence affected states. Though the internal security situation has vastly improved during the last three years largely because of cooperation between the Centre and the state governments, Naxalism continues to remains a grave challenge which claimed nearly 600 lives in 2011, the sources said.

The country`s top leadership will review the two-pronged approach of development and police action to contain the Maoist problem and the future strategy to deal with it. With communal violence becoming a major cause of concern for the government as 2,420 such incidents have reported from across the country in last three years where at least 427 people lost their lives, the issue is likely to be flagged by the Home Minister in the meeting since the sensitive matter needs urgent attention from all quarters.

Situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which has witnessed relative peace in recent times, will be discussed intensively and how to meet the challenge of maintaining peace for longer period in the sensitive state. The challenge posed by insurgent groups, especially in the Northeastern states, and how to bring them to the negotiating table will be discussed.

Chidambaram is expected to present a report on the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast and how it has been changed dramatically with close coordination of central and state governments. As the Home Ministry has flagged capacity building as the area on focus in 2012, the issue will get priority in the conference and discuss how the Centre can help the states in filling up vacancies, augmenting arms, ammunitions and modernisation of their forces.

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