BSF’s Jurisdiction Extended In WB, Punjab, Assam

A fresh war of words has ensued between the Opposition ruled border States and the Federal  Government following  The Ministry of Home Affairs extending   BSF’s jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km along the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and  Assam to “improve operational efficiency” and “crackdown on smuggling rackets”. The Centre has empowered the Border Security Force to conduct searches, arrest suspects and make seizures up to 50 km from India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders. In a Gazette  Notification issued on October 11,  the MHA  said it was amending an earlier notification of 2014 on the jurisdiction of the BSF to exercise its powers in states where it guards the international border. It outlined the new jurisdiction as “whole of the area comprised in the States of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya and Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and so much of the area comprised within a belt of fifty kilometers in the States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, running along the borders of India”.

BSF has been empowered to take this action against an accused under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Passport Act, and the Passport (Entry to India) Act. In Assam, West Bengal, and Punjab, the BSF can conduct raids and arrest like the state police. Congress and TMC have condemned the extension of the para military’s power saying it is an attack on the federal structure. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit  Channi has said on tweeter  ‘’I strongly condemn the GoI’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 rollback this irrational decision’’. His predecessor Captain Amarendra Singh who had recently met HM Amit Shah has however hailed the decision saying it is in the interest of the state. He had reportedly urged the HM for taking adequate measures along the Punjab-Pakistan border. In Gujarat having a border with Pakistan, the limit has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km while in Rajasthan sharing a border with Pakistan the limit remains  50 km. MHA claimed the extension of jurisdiction is to curb illegal activities linked to national security in 10 states and two Union Territories, but it might also raise administrative and political issues. Picture courtesy to The New Indian Express. Edited by PK Chakravarty.

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