Chidambaram felt NIA was unconstitutional – Wikileaks

India’s Home Minister P Chidambaram felt a pang of guilt at trying to ‘usurp’ law and order responsibilities from the state governments through the formation of the National Intelligence Agency, according to the latest cable leaked by Wikileaks.

According to the cable written two years ago, American officials said Chidambaram felt considerable trepidation and doubts as he pushed ahead with forming his “new tool” to tackle terrorism in early 2009.

“Referring to the newly-formed National Investigation Agency (NIA), Chidambaram observed that he had a new weapon in hand to combat terrorism. He conceded that he was coming “”perilously close to crossing constitutional limits”” in empowering the NIA,” the cable said.

In an interesting revelation, Chidambaram is quoted as saying that he expects the NIA law to be challenged as law and order is a ‘state subject’ according to the Indian constitution. The law, ultimately, was never challenged.

“He opined that the NIA law would be challenged in court because it ascribes certain investigating powers to the NIA which may be seen to conflict with responsibility that is exclusively with the states,” the cable said.

Chidamabaram also said he had “intelligence” that Pakistani entities have taken out a contract to “”harm”” Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, who is under trial for the Mumbai attacks of 2008. “A full security audit has been ordered in Mumbai to ensure Kasab’s protection,” he is reported to have told FBI director Robert Mueller.

The cable also showed that the Americans were less than honest or straight with their Indian ally, especially when Chidambaram asked for technology that would help him trace the location of a cell-phone using ‘triangulation’ of signals.

“Mueller responded that he would have to inquire whether the FBI has the capacity to go beyond the transmitting tower to the physical origin of the call through ‘triangulation,'” the cable noted.