BSF jurisdiction: Punjab assembly unanimously passes resolution against Centre’s move
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Thursday passed a resolution against the Centre’s notification that extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50km inside the international border even as the opposition parties questioned the delay by the Congress government in moving the Supreme Court against the order. This was the last assembly session during the tenure of the present Congress government.
The resolution was adopted unanimously by the state assembly, “rejecting” the Union home ministry’s October 11 order in the absence of the two members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in power at the Centre, from the House. Former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who quit the Congress last month and has backed the extension in BSF’s operational remit, also did not attend the proceedings.
All other parties, including the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), supported the official resolution on the concluding day of the two-day special session convened after an all-party meeting resolved to oppose and reject the Union government’s notification. However, both AAP and SAD also questioned the delay in challenging the notification in the apex court. The Centre had amended the BSF Act to authorise the border guarding force to carry out “arrest, search and seizure” within 50km, up from the existing 15km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
Deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who holds the home portfolio, moved the resolution demanding the withdrawal of the Centre’s directive. Terming the Centre’s move “an attack on the federal structure”, Randhawa said the state government will challenge the notification in the Punjab and Haryana high court. “As per the Constitution of India, maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the state government, and for this purpose, government of Punjab is fully competent. The decision of extending the jurisdiction of the BSF by the Union government is an expression of distrust towards the police and people of Punjab. This is their insult,” the resolution stated, stressing on prior consultation.
Citing a letter written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2012 to the then UPA government as the Gujarat chief minister against a similar move that separate state was being created within the state, Randhawa suggested that the House members should meet the PM over the issue. As SAD and AAP members rose to speak on the matter, speaker Rana KP Singh and parliamentary affairs minister Brahm Mohindra said there was no need for debate as the matter had already been discussed at length in the all-party meeting. The speaker later allowed the members to give their suggestions.
Raising the issue of delay in moving the SC against the notification, SAD member Birkam Singh Majithia said the Congress government in the state should also take a decision that the Punjab police would not give cooperation to the BSF beyond 15km. He then hit out at Randhawa for allowing the BSF into the state by asking for their deployment in jails for security. “What purpose will the resolution serve? There have been 16 resolutions so far, but none has been implemented,” he said.
While finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said he (Majithia) was trying to gain political advantage on this issue, chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi said this was not one person’s fight and they (political parties) were all together in it. Congress member Navjot Singh Sidhu asked why the Akali Dal chief (Sukhbir Singh Badal) did not attend the all-party meeting on such an important issue.
Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu suggested that the Punjab government should get in touch with other states such as Rajasthan, Gujarat and J&K and together press for an amendment in the BSF Act to incorporate a clause regarding prior consultation with states before any such changes. SAD (Sanyukt) member Parminder Singh Dhindsa and AAP member Aman Arora asked the CM to share the details of his meeting with the PM and Union home minister Amit Shah after which the Centre issued the BSF notification. “We should have acted promptly after the MHA came out with this directive. It has been one month, but we are still discussing what needs to be done. Why it (directive) has not been challenged in SC,” Arora asked. Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema suggested a resolution against former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh in the House for repeatedly raising the bogey of security, asking the CM what was his (Channi’s) deal with PM and Amit Shah on the BSF issue.
Hitting back, Channi said the SAD always saw everything through the narrow prism of politics, especially the issues of utmost importance to Punjab such as devolution of more powers to states, transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab. “They allowed entry to the BJP and RSS in Punjab. They became the gateway through which the RSS, which has always been inimical to the interests of Punjab, managed to make inroads in the State. When the RSS and its political wing the BJP undermined the federal structure of the country by revoking the Article 370 not only did the Akalis sided with the BJP but SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal spoke in its favour,” he said,
On meeting Modi and Shah, Channi said that his meetings with them were a courtesy call. “The Akalis have chosen to forget very conveniently that I wrote letters to the Union Government emphasizing the reopening of the Kartarpur corridor, besides pleading with it repeatedly to roll back the three draconian agricultural farm laws,” he added, categorically stating that he never asked them to increase the jurisdiction of the BSF in the state. However, AAP and SAD members were not satisfied with his reply. They started protesting and entered the well of the House, raising slogans against the state government, before staging symbolic walkouts, separately.
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