The Extreme Danger of the NCTC
by Bhaskar Menon on 28 Feb 2013 3 Comments

On 27 February 1933, four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, there was a devastating fire in the national Reichstag (parliament) in Berlin. Firefighters trying to save the building found in it a mentally disabled Danish bricklayer who confessed under questioning to be a communist who had come for “political work” in Germany.

Under the pretext that the nation was under assault by international communism, Hitler then invoked emergency powers to arrest members of the party en masse, including all its representatives in parliament. With their seats empty, the Nazis became the majority party, allowing it to consolidate power and set in motion a new wave of oppressions.

The key to Nazi success in moving from a parliamentary plurality to absolute domination of the German political landscape was an intelligence apparatus with unaccountable powers of search, seizure and arrest. It allowed Hitler to keep tabs on all opposition figures, to cow them with threats, confiscate their property, arrest and torture at will, and murder those who would not bend.

Indians should consider that history before supporting the National Counter-Terrorism Center the UPA government is pushing again in the wake of the Hyderabad terrorist attack. It too will centralize dangerous power in an unaccountable intelligence operation wide open to political misuse. It too will have powers of search, seizure and arrest outside the existing legal framework.

They should also ask two questions about the renewed push for the NCTC:

-        Why did Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, days away from presenting the 2013 Union budget, break from that critically important task to urge action on the NCTC?

-        Why have all the Big Business media organizations suddenly become cheerleaders for our incipient SS-Gestapo?


The answer is the same for both questions: India is under great pressure to open its doors to foreign investment. The super-rich investors, who turned China into a collection of “cancer villages” with the widest rich-poor gap in the world, are looking for another poor and populous place to put their money. But they are wary of the fractious unpredictability of Indian democracy.

The NCTC will be their control mechanism. It will not just target “terrorists;” it will define who is a terrorist.

Just as the SS-Gestapo widened Nazi targets from communists to political dissidents of all kinds, Jews, Gypsies and other undesirables, the NCTC can tar, contain and eliminate anyone who stands in the way of its masters.

And its masters will not be a free parliament; it will be the fat cats who run the global black market and manage organized crime worldwide.

If Indian democracy is to survive, not only must the bid for the NCTC as currently envisaged be turned down, there should be a popular drive to bring all of India's several intelligence agencies into a constitutional framework that provides oversight and has provisions to enforce accountability. More, there should be a cabinet minister in charge of Intelligence, answerable to parliament, and a recourse mechanism for Indian citizens victimized by overzealous gumshoes.

If “intelligence professionals” shake their head and threaten inaction against foreign and domestic dangers, perhaps it is time we turned away from the whole idea of a centralized organization with vast powers. A community-based reporting system linked nationally and enabling a real-time flow of information and analysis that will empower local action might prove far more effective. An NCTC without police powers could be the national hub of that system.

My 2011 proposal for a CCTV czar overseeing a national drive would be an essential part of such a system. 

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top