Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Centre empowers BSF in three states, Punjab CM Channi calls it attack on federalism

Chandigarh: As Centre decided to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force up to 50 kilometres along the borders of three states from the international border, it raised political hackles as Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was targeted by his own Congress colleagues, calling it a "direct attack on federalism".

With the Taliban seizing control of Afghanistan, the Union Home Ministry has moved to empower the BSF in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam to carry out searches, seizures and arrests over a wider belt. Such operational powers of the BSF, a Central armed police force under the Union, will also be applicable to the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, according to a notification published in the Gazette of India on October 11.

Earlier, the BSF’s limit was fixed up to 80 km from the international boundary in Gujarat and 15 km in Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.

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According to a Home Ministry order, the BSF's jurisdiction in the border states of West Bengal, Punjab and Assam will be expanded up to 50 km from the boundary. The order suggests that the central force can arrest and carry out searches and seizures over a region where its powers could clash with those of the state police in Punjab's Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Pathankot. The Golden Temple in Amritsar, for example, is around 35 km from the Wagah border with Pakistan.

"I strongly condemn the government'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 Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision," the Punjab Chief Minister tweeted amid a massive backlash in the state.

There have been over five incidents of violation of Indian airspace in the Gurdaspur sector alone which has triggered the panic button prompting the BSF to take stock of the situation and not only strengthen its presence at the nearly 553 kilometres of international border with Pakistan in Punjab but also put in place the high-end surveillance systems, since August 15 when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

However, the Home Ministry has reduced the force’s jurisdiction in Gujarat from 80 kilometres to 50 kilometres.

In Rajasthan, the area has remained unchanged at 50 kilometres, according to India Today. There is also no change in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, where no limit has been prescribed. 

from asianetnews

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