The Punjab BJP on Monday (on March 7) questioned the Centre’s logic behind imposing a Rs 6.3-crore cost on the state for deploying paramilitary forces to fight Pakistan terrorists at the Pathankot airbase in January.
Central forces were in Pathankot from January 2 to 27 and the Union home ministry had asked Punjab to pay for it.
However, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has sought a waiver from the Centre, saying the deployment of these units was in national interest and the expenditure thereon should not be billed to the state government.
The Shiromani Akali Dal is a part of the BJP-led NDA at the Centre and the senior alliance partner in Punjab.
The Centre’s move did not go down well with the Punjab BJP unit either. “Why should Punjab pay for a terror strike on a central government installation?” said BJP state unit president Kamal Sharma.
“Though it’s the BJP government at the Centre, I want to urge it not to impose such charges on the state,” BJP’s cabinet-rank minister in Punjab Madan Mohan Mittal also told HT. “The terror attack on the Pathankot airbase was not a local law and order problem. It was an attempt by terrorists from across the border to sabotage peace in the country. So, it is beyond logic to pay for central forces,” Mittal added.
He said the Centre was not charging strife-torn states of Jammu and Kashmir and Assam for fighting terrorists.
What the Centre’s letter said
In a letter to the Punjab government on January 20, the union home ministry asked the state to pay for the deployment of 20 companies of paramilitary forces in Pathankot and nearby areas between January 2 and 27. The letter said that the expenditure for each company was Rs 1.77 lakh a day. The Punjab government was told to pay for the transportation charges too.
Eleven companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and nine companies of the Border Security Force (BSF) were deployed to fortify the Pathankot airbase during the terror attack.
In its reply, the state home department headed by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said: “These paramilitary forces, along with Punjab Police, were used to carry out sustained search and combing operations up to 10-12 km around Tibri cantonment. Because both Pathankot and Tibri are vital defence establishments, the central forces were deployed in national interest. It is requested that the expenditure of Rs 6.35 crore be waived.”
Cong slams slams Centre
The Congress on Monday (March 7) dubbed as “travesty” the Centre’s move to bill Punjab for deployment of paramilitary forces in the wake of the Pathankot terror strike and made a strong pitch for waiver of all militancy related dues of the state.
“Travesty to bill Punjab for #anti-terror operations ALL Militancy related dues of Punjab need waiver Punjab’s fault Pakistan is its neighbour (sic),” party spokesman Manish Tewari said on micro-blogging site Twitter.