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CMs to discuss internal security in backdrop of Maoist abductions

New Delhi, April 15 - The central government and chief ministers will Monday discuss the internal security situation in the country in the backdrop of recent high-profile abductions by the Maoists in Odisha to secure release of prisoners and the need to strengthen counter terrorism capabilities and intelligence apparatus.

The day-long meeting will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will be addressed by Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah are among those expected to take part in the meeting. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the supremo of the Trinamool Congress, an ally of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, is unlikely to attend.

While chief ministers will raise state-specific issues, they are likely to demand more funds for police modernisation.

With Maoists in Odisha holding Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka captive for the past 20 days, the meeting is expected to discuss ways to contain left wing extremism.

Maoists had Thursday released Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo after keeping him in captivity for nearly a month. Another Italian, Claudio Colangelo, had been released earlier.

Sources said issues of police reforms, coastal security and centre-state relations. will be discussed at the meeting.

The internal security meeting comes in the bckdrop of a raging debate on the contours of the proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) for which the central government has called a separate meeting May 5.

Banerjee, whose party is a constituent of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), is among the vocal opponents of NCTC proposal in its present form. Several other chief ministers including those of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Odisha have conveyed their opposition to the proposed anti-terror intelligence hub, saying it would infringe on the state's rights.

The sources said Omar Abdullah is likely to demand revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas in the state in view of improvement in the ground situation.

AFSPA offers legal immunity to the security forces in their counter-terrorism operations.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is expected to demand more funds for border area development programmes. He is also likely to demand additional India Reserve Police (IRP) battalions and funds for police modernisation, a state government official told IANS.

The centre, on its part, is expected to tell the states to fill pending vacancies in their police forces.

Chidambaram, who has been aggressively following with state governments the issue of police reforms and encouraging beat policing, would deliver the opening address to the chief ministers.

Sources said Chidambaram was expected to seek greater cooperation from state governments in tackling terror, particularly pre-empting it with better intelligence-sharing mechanism.

The sources said activities of Pakistan-based terror outfits and insurgency in the northeast, combating economic offences, especially counterfeit currency notes, would be discussed at length during the Monday meeting.

The other issues to be discussed at the meeting include information collection system -- both technical and human intelligence, its proper sharing and necessary action,

procurement of arms and ammunition and Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS).

A senior Trinamool leader said in Kolkata that Banerjee was unlikely to attend the annual chief minister's meeting but would attend the May 5 meeting on NCTC.

"As far as I know, she wont be coming for the Monday meeting, but she will come for the May 5 NCTC meeting," the leader said on condition of anonymity.



-IANS


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