Amid Backlash from Congress-led Punjab, BSF Clarifies Increased Powers in Border States
Amid backlash from Congress-ruled Punjab over the central government’s decision to increase its powers with respect to border states Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, the Border Security Force (BSF) on Wednesday clarified that the step had been taken to “give uniformity to jurisdiction”. According to a new government notification dated October 11, BSF officials can now search, seize and arrest, at par with their police counterparts, 50 km into Punjab, Bengal and Assam. Earlier, the jurisdictional limit for BSF in these states was 15 km.
The BSF said, “The amendment effected on October 11, 2021, establishes uniformity in defining the area within which Border Security Force can operate as per its charter of duties and execution of its role and task of border guarding in its areas of deployment.”
“This will also enable improved operational effectiveness in curbing trans-border crime and to an extent of 50 km from the international boundary within the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, running along the borders of India. Earlier, the limit was fixed to 80 km in case of Gujarat and 15 km in case of Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam,” BSF said in a press release.
Officials also told News18 that BSF did not have power to investigate and had to hand over suspect/accused to local authorities. They said an arrest by BSF would be applicable for limited crime as per the Code of Criminal Procedure. The BSF could not be involved in any criminal act other than cases related to the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act, arms and ammunition.
MHA ORDER TRIGGERS POLITICAL CONTROVERSY
The Congress-led government in Punjab, however, did not take kindly to the Centre’s move. Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi has condemned the 35-km increase in Punjab, which is a border state, calling the decision of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) “irrational”.
He tweeted: “I strongly condemn the GoI’s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 KM belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on the federalism. I urge the Union Home Minister @AmitShah to immediately rollback this irrational decision.”
I strongly condemn the GoI’s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 KM belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on the federalism. I urge the Union Home Minister @AmitShah to immediately rollback this irrational decision.— Charanjit S Channi (@CHARANJITCHANNI) October 13, 2021
Channi, however, had met home minister Amit Shah on October 5 urging him to “seal” the international border along Punjab to curb trafficking of drugs and weapons into the state from Pakistan. But a week later, on October 11, MHA increased the BSF’s jurisdiction to search, seize and arrest deep inside the border state along with West Bengal and Assam.
While Punjab and West Bengal are non-BJP states, Assam is a BJP-ruled state. Punjab has already responded to the Centre’s move, but there has been no response from the Bengal government as of now.
Another Congress leader, Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari also tweeted his misgivings about the MHA’s move and called it a “transgression”. He said, “Notification enhancing operational mandate of BSF,15 to 50 KM’s in Punjab,West Bengal &Assam transgresses upon Constitutional Public order & Policing remit of States Half of Punjab will now fall under BSF jurisdiction @CHARANJITCHANNI must oppose it.”
MHA Notification enhancing operational mandate of BSF,15 to 50 KM’s in Punjab,West Bengal &Assam transgresses upon Constitutional Public order & Policing remit of States Half of Punjab will now fall under BSF jurisdiction @CHARANJITCHANNI must oppose it https://t.co/Yy3pOnbFGN— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) October 13, 2021
Former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, however, had a different view on the matter. The leader, who recently resigned from the chief minister’s post, held onto his previous views on national security. In tweets posted by his media adviser Raveen Thukral, Amarinder said, “Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more & more weapons & drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence & powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics.”
He also said: “Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more & more weapons & drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence & powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics.”
The Shiromani Akali Dal like the ruling Congress has termed it as an infringement on the federal structure and has urged the CM to take it up with the Centre. In a statement the SAD decided to describe the move to hand over almost half of the state to the BSF as “ the imposition of the President’s rule through the back door in nearly half of Punjab. This virtually turns the state into a de facto Union territory. This devious attempt to place the state directly under the central rule must and will be opposed.
WHAT DOES THE NEW GAZETTE NOTIFICATION SAY
The amendments to the Border Security Force Act have been made with respect to Gujarat, Punjab, WB and Assam. Jurisdiction in Gujarat has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km, whereas it has been increased in Punjab, WB and Assam from 15 km to 50 km.
On October 11, MHA issued a notification to give uniformity in the jurisdiction to BSF. In states like Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya and union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, BSF now has 50-km jurisdiction as before.
(With inputs from Ankur Sharma and Swati Bhan)
Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.
( News Source :Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Rashtra News staff and is published from a www.news18.com feed.)
Related searches :