Ground Report | New Delhi: Amit Shah power of BSF; The Union Home Ministry has decided to further expand the power and scope of the Border Security Force (BSF). Now the BSF can conduct arrests, search operations, and seizures within 50 km of the International Border in Assam, West Bengal, and Punjab.
BSF is a central paramilitary force. BSF will also get this power in the new Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. This information has been given in the gazette published on October 11. Earlier, the BSF had this right within 80 km of the international border in Gujarat, besides 15 km in Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal, and Assam.
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Amit Shah power of BSF
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has opposed this decision of the central government and said that it is an attack on the federal structure of India. Channi has demanded to withdraw this decision. The notification dated 11 October has superseded the decision taken in 2014 under the BSF Act, 1968. The extension that BSF has got under this notification includes Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, and Meghalaya.
In August 2019, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two parts as a Union Territory. But in the decision taken in 2014 under the BSF Act, 1968, the name of Jammu and Kashmir was not there. However, a similar amendment in 1973 had reference to Jammu and Kashmir.
The BSF can now conduct arrests, search operations and seizures in drug smuggling, other prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners as well as other illegal activities under the rules of the Central Government.
A BSF official from ‘The Hindu’ has said that ‘With this amendment, a certain area has been fixed for BSF, where we can take action. This will help in curbing cross-border crime.
If any suspect is caught or anything illegal is found in this marked area, then only the BSF will have the right of preliminary inquiry and the suspect will have to be handed over to the local police within 24 hours. The BSF will not have the authority to prosecute the suspect.
Punjab angry with the decision
Criticizing this decision, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi tweeted, “I strongly condemn this unilateral decision of the Government of India. This is a direct attack on the federal structure of India. I request Union Home Minister Amit Shah to withdraw this unreasonable decision.
In 2012, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the proposed amendment in the BSF Act, 1968. Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has also termed this decision of the central government as irrational.
Randhawa has said, “The work of policing within the state is not of the Border Security Force. His job is to protect the border. Punjab’s opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal has also opposed it. Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema has said that it is like imposing President’s rule in more than half of Punjab through the back door.