The debate on the autonomy of the state has started after the move to give more powers to the Border Security Force (BSF). Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has opposed the Centre's move.
New Delhi: The Center has empowered Border Security Force (BSF) officers to conduct searches, seizures and arrests within 50 km of the International Border (India-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh) in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. That is, now the BSF can continue the arrest and search operation within this jurisdiction even without the order and warrant of the magistrate. The Home Ministry claims that in view of the recent incidents of drone dropping weapons from across the border, a step has been taken to expand the jurisdiction of the BSF.
However, after this move the debate on the autonomy of the state has started. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has opposed the Centre's move.
Punjab Chief Minister Channi tweeted, "I strongly condemn the unilateral decision of the government to give additional powers to the BSF within 50 km of the international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I call on Union Home Minister Amit Shah. I urge you to immediately withdraw this irrational decision."
The Home Ministry claims that this decision has been taken to curb illegal activities related to national security in 10 states and two union territories, but administrative and political issues can also arise after this decision.
A senior police officer claimed, "This is a very politically sensitive move. The main objective of the BSF is to guard the borders and prevent infiltration. Recent cases have seen that the BSF has failed to protect the border line." "
According to him, this move may lead to clashes with the local police and villagers during the BSF's search and seizure. "Their (BSF's) duty remains around the border posts, but with these new powers, they will also work under the jurisdiction of some states," he said.
On the contrary, a senior Border Security Force officer said, "After this step, if we have intelligence in any case, then we will not have to wait for the reply of the local police and we can take preventive action in time."
Now, BSF officers will be able to conduct arrests and searches in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam. The BSF has been empowered to take this action under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Passport Act and the Passport (Entry into India) Act.
In Assam, West Bengal and Punjab, the BSF has got the same powers of search and arrest as the state police.
The Home Ministry has given permission for raids and arrests in an area (within Indian territory) of 50 km from the international border with India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh. Earlier this range was 15 km. Apart from this, BSF will also be able to conduct searches and arrests in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Ladakh.
At the same time, in the areas of Gujarat bordering Pakistan, this radius has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km and in Rajasthan there has been no change in the area limit up to 50 km.
The new amendment to the BSF Act will empower the force to apprehend any person who has committed an offense under these laws.