Punjab CM Charanjit Channi cries foul after MHA notification expanding BSF powers in state

Congress, Akali leaders join chorus of protest; Amarinder differs, welcomes move

Tribune Web Desk
Chandigarh, October 13

Punjab has objected to the Ministry of Home Affairs decision expanding Border Security Force’s powers of arrest, search and seizure to a 50-km belt in Punjab.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said he opposed the central government’s decision that has sparked similar reactions from his Congress party as well rivals Shiromani Akali Dal. Both see this as a means of infringing upon states’ policing powers.

"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 @AmitShah to immediately rollback this irrational decision," he said in a tweet. 

 At the centre of the controversy is a recent order by the Ministry of Home Affairs expanding BSF’s powers to arrest, search and seizure in Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, and Tripura to 50 km from the border, up from the previous 15 km.

MHA empowers BSF to make raids, arrests up to 50 km from IB in Punjab, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura

The notification issued on Monday has sparked a debate on state autonomy.

“MHA Notification enhancing operational mandate of BSF, 15 to 50 KM’s in Punjab,West Bengal &Assam transgresses upon Constitutional Public order & Policing remit of States Half of Punjab will now fall under BSF jurisdiction @CHARANJITCHANNI must oppose it,” said Manish Tewari, who’s a Congress Member of Parliament from Anandpur Sahib.  

A second tweet from the leader said: “Mischievous part of Section 139 of BSF Act ‘…or of any cognizable offence punishable under any other Central Act; or punishable under any other Central Act..,’ It allows GOI to institutionalise an alternative policing paradigm. Was Punjab Govt consulted?

Former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sunil Jakhar blamed Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi for having unwittingly handed over “half of Punjab to the central government”.

“Be careful what you ask for! Has @CHARANJITCHANNI unwittingly managed to handover half of Punjab to Central govt. 25000sq km (out of total 50,000sq km) has now been placed under BSF jurisdiction. Punjab Police stands castigated. Do we still want more autonomy to States,” Jakhar said in a tweet.

Akalis were similarly incensed by the move.

“This means internal emergency is being imposed in Punjab,” Shiromani Akali Dal leader  Daljit Cheema said.

Former chief minister Amarinder Singh however welcomed the measure.

“Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more & more weapons & drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence & powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics,” Amarinder Singh’s media adviser Raveen Thukral said quoting the former chief minister in the first of two tweets.

“Partisan considerations can’t & shouldn’t dictate our stand on issues of national security. I’d said that at the time of the 2016 surgical strikes & am saying it again. We’ve to rise above politics when India’s security is at stake, as it is now,” the second tweet on behalf of Amarinder Singh said.

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