Under the new order, the BSF’s jurisdiction is now a 50 km belt along the borders of these states, compared to the previous 15 km. However, its jurisdiction has been interrupted by 20 km in Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya, where it had jurisdiction up to 80 km.
Similarly, in Gujarat, the jurisdiction of the BSF has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km. In Rajasthan, the BSF area of jurisdiction will remain the same at 50 km.
Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act of 1968 authorizes the Center to make such changes. However, each order issued under it must subsequently be presented to each House of Parliament, which can modify or annul it.
While the implications and motives for the latest order are being weighed, the move has once again pitted congressional leaders against each other.
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi and its attachment Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa have harshly criticized the measure, but the former state CM Amarinder Singh has supported the decision.
Punjab CM Channi criticizes the Center
Reacting to the Interior Ministry’s order, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Wednesday opposed BSF’s expansion of power, tweeting: “I strongly condemn the unilateral decision of the Government of India to grant additional powers. to BSF within 50 KM that run along international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I urge the Union Interior Minister Amit Shah to immediately reverse this irrational decision. ”
I strongly condemn the unilateral decision of the Government of India to grant additional powers to BSF within the 50 KM strip along t… https://t.co/6eNx5DcbAU
– Charanjit S Channi (@CHARANJITCHANNI) 1634132641000
Manish Tewari, MP from Anandpur Sahib Congress, tweeted: “MHA notification enhancing BSF operational mandate, 15 to 50 KM in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam violates constitutional public order and states police mandate Half of Punjab will now fall under the jurisdiction of BSF @ CHARANJITCHANNI I must oppose. ”
He added in another tweet, “Malicious part of Section 139 of the BSF Law” … or any recognizable offense punishable under any other Central Law; or punishable under any other Central Law … “Allows the Government of India to institutionalize an alternative policing paradigm. Was the government of Punjab consulted?
Federalism weakens: CM MP from Punjab
Punjab’s Chief Deputy Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa called the decision an attempt to “weaken the spirit of federalism.” “There are no justifiable reasons to unilaterally change the existing arrangements by the Government of India, except to weaken the State Government and the spirit of federalism,” stated the Deputy CM.
In a statement, Randhawa, who also has the Internal Affairs portfolio, said: “This illogical decision was absolutely against the spirit of the uprising of the border guard forces, which must focus on the international border and act as the first line of defense. . ” He said that policing in the interior is not the role of a border surveillance force, but would weaken the ability of the Border Security Force to fulfill its primary duty of protecting the international border.
Will call PM, says Randhawa
MP CM further said that he would soon personally call the prime minister Narendra modi and the Union Minister of the Interior, Amit Shah, to solve this problem.
Meanwhile, Randhawa said categorically that Channi has not raised this issue with the Center nor has he asked for the BSF jurisdiction to be improved along with the international border.
Emphasizing the need for excellent cooperation between central and state agencies, Randhawa said that such coordination should be enhanced with information sharing to take swift action to resist illegal activities. Furthermore, he said that joint counter-drug operations and terror modules have been carried out successfully between BSF and Punjab Police in the past, in addition to mechanisms for information exchange and coordination already in place.
Punjab Police Punished: Jakhar
Former President of the Punjab Congress Sunil jakhar on Wednesday he raised questions about the state government’s decision to ask the Center to “seal” the state’s international border and said Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi “unknowingly managed to hand over” half of Punjab to the central government.
On Twitter, Jakhar claimed that the move “punished” the Punjab police.
“Be careful what you ask for! Has Charanjit Singh Channi unknowingly managed to hand over half of Punjab to the central government? 25,000 km2 (out of a total of 50,000 km2) have been placed under the jurisdiction of BSF. Police in Punjab is punished. Do we still want more autonomy for the states? “Jakhar tweeted.
Be careful what you order! @CHARANJITCHANNI has unknowingly managed to hand over half of Punjab to the central government.… Https://t.co/SO61xTnrEM
– Sunil Jakhar (@sunilkjakhar) 1634120064000
Amarinder supports the movement
Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh backed the Center’s decision, saying that the central armed forces should not be dragged into politics.
“Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We see more and more weapons and drugs pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into the Punjab. The presence and enhanced powers of BSF will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag the central armed forces into politics.” added. The former CM said according to a tweet from his media adviser Raveen Thukral.
‘Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We are seeing more and more weapons and drugs powered by Pak-backed terror… https://t.co/QNjcxRnov8
– Raveen Thukral (@RT_Media_Capt) 1634131229000
“Partisan considerations cannot and should not dictate our position on national security issues. I said that at the time of the 2016 surgical strikes and I say it again. We have to rise above politics when the security of India is at stake, as it is now, ”added another tweet from Thukral.
To stop trafficking, says BSF
According to the notification from the Ministry of the Interior, the central government has revised the ‘Program’ that specifies the border section where BSF would have powers of search, seizure and arrest under laws such as the Passport Law, the NDPS Law, the Customs Law , etc., as well as the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to the states of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Meghalaya; UT of J&K and Ladakh; and a 50 km belt in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. According to previous notifications published on September 22, 1969; June 11, 2012; and July 3, 2014; the “List” area comprised the states of Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura Meghalaya and J&K and the area within 80 km of the border belt in Gujarat, 50 km in Rajasthan and 15 km in West Bengal, Assam and Punjab.
While the addition of an additional 35 km stretch to the BSF mandate could irritate the affected states – Punjab, West Bengal and Assam (the latter two ruled by opposition parties) – and lead them to question the step as a usurpation. of its powers and against the federal structure, BSF sources said it would empower its staff to carry out operations against narcotics / weapons trafficking and illegal infiltration without problems in the border sections. “We can act on information related to the entry and movement of smugglers and intruders up to 50 km within the border, instead of being limited by the need to coordinate with the state police beyond 15 km,” said an official .
Not final yet
It was not immediately clear if state governments were taken on board before issuing the latest notification. However, each order issued under section 139 of the BSF Act must be subsequently submitted to each House of Parliament, which can modify or annul it.
It should be recalled that an attempt by the former UPA government in 2011 to amend the BSF Act to extend the powers of search, seizure and arrest of the force beyond the border sections and include other areas, such as the states hit by the extremism of left where BSF is deployed: it had met fierce resistance from opposition-ruled states, as well as many opposition parties in Parliament, prompting the government to withdraw the Rajya Sabha bill.