Political slugfest in Punjab over BSF’s new jurisdiction

SAD chief SUkhbir Badal said it was most unlikely that the Centre would have enhanced the BSF jurisdiction without the consent of the Punjab government
Centre’s move to widen the jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF) for seizure, search and arrest up to 50km from the international border with Pakistan in Punjab came under attack, leading to a political slugfest. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
Centre’s move to widen the jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF) for seizure, search and arrest up to 50km from the international border with Pakistan in Punjab came under attack, leading to a political slugfest. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
Published on Oct 14, 2021 01:36 AM IST
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By HT Correspondents

Chandigarh/Amritsar Political leaders from Punjab, including chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi, on Wednesday reacted sharply to denounce the Centre’s move to widen the jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF) for seizure, search and arrest up to 50km from the international border with Pakistan. Other than the BJP leaders who hailed the move, former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was the only exception to support the step.

“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 roll back this irrational decision (sic),” Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Chani tweeted.

“It’s an attack on federalism and an unseen emergency,” said deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who holds home portfolio, asking the Union home minister Amit Shah to withdraw the decision. He clarified that the chief minister never asked the Centre for enhancing the BSF’s jurisdiction in Punjab. “Without obtaining the concurrence of the state government, the amendment in the law amounts to encroachment on the powers of the states,” added Randhawa.

Earlier, in a tweet, senior Congress leader Sunil Jakhar had taken a dig at the chief minister over the issue. “Be careful what you ask for! Has

@CHARANJITCHANNI unwittingly managed to hand over 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 (sic)?” he tweeted.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) described the move to hand over almost half of the state to the BSF akin to “imposition of the President’s rule through back door”. This virtually turns the state into a de-facto Union Territory and the devious attempt to place the state under the central rule will be opposed, a party statement said. “It is most unlikely that the Centre would have taken such a drastic decision without the prior consent of the state government and all the noise which Channi and his colleagues are making is an attempt to hide their complicity in this decision,” party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a statement. He said chief minister Channi’s unscheduled meeting with Amit Shah last week apparently cleared the decks for the “dangerous move.

However, former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh supported the move. His media adviser Raveen Thukral in a message on Twitter quoted him saying, “Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more & more weapons and drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence & powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central forces into politics”.

He further quoted the ex-CM: “partisan considerations can’t and shouldn’t dictate our stand on issues of national security. I’d said that at the time of 2016 surgical strikes and am saying it again; we have to rise above politics when India’s security is at stake, as it is now.”

BJP national general secretary Subhash Sharma said national security was of utmost importance and leaders should refrain from politicising the issue.

“Keeping in view of the drones entering Punjab from Pakistan, former chief minister Amarinder Singh had on record termed the situation dangerous. In the past few months, many terrorist modules have been busted that shows the seriousness of the situation in the border state,” he said.

“We hope that political parties would rise above their political interests and not create a precarious situation,” he said.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021