India / Rollback decision that extended BSF jurisdiction along border in Punjab: CM to Centre

Zoom News : Oct 14, 2021, 06:57 AM
New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has condemned the Centre's move to extend BSF's jurisdiction to a 50-km belt along the international border in Punjab, Assam, and West Bengal.

Taking to Twitter, Channi urged for an immediate rollback on the 'irrational' decision, which he termed was also a 'direct attack' on federalism.

Earlier, the BSF's jurisdiction was a 15 km belt along the border, wherein the central paramilitary forces had the power of arrest, search and seizure on par with their counterparts in the police.

Channi's demand comes amid strong reactions pouring in from Congress leaders, and other opposition leaders.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa condemned the decision and urged the Centre to withdraw it.

"I urge the prime minister and the home minister to withdraw the move. I do not understand what is in the mind of the government. It is an interference and an attack on our rights," he told reporters.

Rather than addressing the issue of drones coming from across the border, the Centre has decided to allow the BSF to take action 50 km inside the border, Randhawa said.

"I feel the Centre has doubts on our nationality. I want to say that Punjabis are patriots and love the country," he added.

Later, in a statement, Randhawa slammed the Centre for a recent amendment in Section 139 of the BSF Act, saying it is tantamount to an "attack on federalism".

"This illogical decision was absolutely against the spirit of the raising of border-guarding forces, which are required to focus on the international border and act as the first line of defence," he said.

The Congress leader said policing is not the role of a border-guarding force, rather it will weaken the capacity of the BSF in discharging its primary duty of guarding the international border.

Highlighting the need for excellent cooperation between central and state agencies, he said such coordination must be enhanced with information sharing for taking prompt action to resist illegal activities.

He further said joint operations against drugs and terrorist modules were successfully conducted by the BSF and the Punjab Police in the past, besides mechanisms for information sharing and coordination are already in place.

There are no justifiable reasons for unilaterally changing the existing arrangements by the Centre, except to weaken the state government and the spirit of federalism, Randhawa said.

The notification issued by the Centre, without obtaining the concurrence of the state government, amounts to an "encroachment" on the powers of the states, he said.

By conferring powers of police officers on BSF officers without consulting the states or obtaining their concurrence, the Centre is "attempting to distort" the federal structure of the Constitution, he added.

Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar said that the Chief Minister had "unwittingly managed to hand over" half of Punjab to the Central government.

Taking to Twitter, Jakhar claimed that the move "castigated" the Punjab Police.

"Be careful what you ask for! Has Charanjit Singh Channi unwittingly managed to hand over half of Punjab to the Central govt. 25000sq km (out of a total of 50,000sq km) has now been placed under BSF jurisdiction. Punjab Police stands castigated. Do we still want more autonomy to States?" Jakhar tweeted.

Meanwhile, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had a different reaction to offer.

He backed the Centre's decision via a tweet posted by his media advisor Raveen Thukral.

"Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more and more weapons and drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence and powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics," Amarinder said.

"Partisan considerations can’t and shouldn’t dictate our stand on issues of national security. I’d said that at the time of the 2016 surgical strikes and am saying it again. We’ve to rise above politics when India’s security is at stake, as it is now," he added.

CM Channi had met Home Minister Amit Shah on October 5 and asked him to "seal" the international border of the state to curb trafficking and weapon.