‘Will meet Amit Shah to know his thoughts’, says NCP's Sharad Pawar on extension of BSF’s jurisdiction
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and senior politician Sharad Pawar on Saturday said that he would meet with Union home minister Amit Shah to discuss Centre’s decision to extend the Border Security Force’s (BSF) operational jurisdiction. “I will be meeting Home Minister Amit Shah to know his thoughts about it,” news agency ANI quoted Pawar as saying on the day.
Pawar’s remarks came as some border states like Punjab and West Bengal have criticised the Union government’s contentious decision to extend BSF’s jurisdiction in the border states as a violation of the country’s federal structure and infringement on states’ rights.
Earlier this week, Pawar had criticised the Union government for “misusing” central agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income tax department and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
“We oppose this decision. This is an infringement on the rights of the state,” news agency PTI quoted TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh as saying, earlier on October 14. Meanwhile, Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi tweeted, “I strongly condemn the GoI's unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within the 50 km belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I urge the Union Home Minister @AmitShah to immediately roll back this irrational decision.”
The Union government amended the Border Security Forces act to allow the BSF to search, seize and arrest within a larger 50kms stretch from the international border in West Bengal, Assam and Punjab. The earlier limit for this was 15km and the Union ministry of home affairs issued a notification on October 11 amending the act, several news agencies reported.
Despite the criticism by West Bengal and Punjab, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he welcomed the Centre’s decision. “Assam welcomes the extension of BSF’s operational jurisdiction. In coordination with state police, this move will serve as a strong deterrent for defeating cross border smuggling and illegal infiltration. It strengthens national security and national interest,” ANI quoted the CM as saying earlier.
In July, Pawar, a former defence minister himself, along with Congress leader AK Antony met Union defence minister Rajnath Singh for an informal discussion regarding the border situation with neighbouring Pakistan and China and also the situation in Afghanistan.