Chandigarh: As BJP government at the Centre on Wednesday increased the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) to 50 kilometers inside Indian territory from International Border (IB) along India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam, giving its officers the powers of arrest, search and seizure, the Punjab Chief Minister Channi termed the Centre’s decision a ‘direct attack on federalism.’
Apart from this, BSF will also be able to search and arrest in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Ladakh. The move is aimed at maintaining “zero tolerance” against terrorism and cross border crimes.
The Punjab chief minister also requested the Union Home Minister Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision.
“I strongly condemn the GoI’s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within the 50 km belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I urge the Union Home Minister @AmitShah to immediately roll back this irrational decision,” Punjab CM Channi said in a tweet.
The state Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa also attacked the Centre saying that the Modi government is attempting to distort the federal structure of the Constitution.
“There are no justifiable reasons for unilaterally changing the existing arrangements by the Government of India, except to weaken the State Government and the spirit of federalism: Punjab Dy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Centre extending BSF jurisdiction in the state,” he said.
“By conferring powers of police officers upon BSF (Border Security Force) officers without consulting State governments or obtaining their concurrence, the Centre is attempting to distort the federal structure of the Constitution,” Randhawa added.
In a notification issued on Monday, the Centre said it is amending the schedule of its earlier notification of July 2014 in terms of jurisdiction of the BSF to exercise its powers in states that it guards international borders.
However, the jurisdiction of BSF in Gujarat has been reduced and the extent of the border has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km, while in Rajasthan the radius area has been kept 50 km remains unchanged.
No boundaries have been set for the five northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur and for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has come down heavily on the Centre terming the move as a ‘direct attack on federalism`.
“I strongly condemn the government of India`s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 km belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I urge Union Home Minister Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision,” the Chief Minister said in a tweet.
The BSF has been given the right to take this action under CrPC, Passport Act and Passport (Entry to India) Act. Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968 empowers the Centre to notify from time to time the area and extent of operation of the BSF.