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Captain With BJP, Alleges Punjab Congress Leader; Amarinder Calls It Cheap Publicity Amid Spar Over BSF Jurisdiction

Former Captain Amarinder Singh had on Wednesday said that enhanced power and presence of Border Security Force’s (BSF) in Punjab will only make the state stronger.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Amid ongoing row over increased jurisdiction of the Border Security Forces (BSF), Amarinder Singh on Thursday lashed out at party colleague Pargat Singh for alleging that the former Punjab chief minister was with the BJP and termed his statements as “ridiculous stories for cheap publicity”. Former Captain Amarinder Singh had on Wednesday said that enhanced power and presence of Border Security Force’s (BSF) in Punjab will only make the state stronger.

“This is the height of irresponsibility from a state minister. You and @sherryontopp are clearly birds of the same feather, with nothing better to do than cook up ridiculous stories for cheap publicity,” said Amarinder Singh in response to Pargat Singh’s comments.

Amarinder Singh had yesterday said that central armed forces should not be dragged into politics amid uproar by Opposition. This invited the criticism of his party members, who accused him of being hand in glove with BJP. Slamming BJP and Amarinder Singh, Pargat Singh said, “I’ve always said Captain is with BJP only. Earlier he went to Delhi to delay paddy procurement and now this… If you’re deploying BSF in Punjab it shows your motive is to impose governor’s rule.”

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Amarinder Singh also hit out at Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala, who questioned why the former Punjab chief minister, now backing Centre’s move, did not demand the increased jurisdiction when he was in power.

“How ridiculous! You mean I’m dictating @HMOIndia decisions now not just in Punjab but also in Gujarat, WB, Assam, etc? A person who couldn’t win an election in his own state has frankly no right to speak on national issues,” said Amarinder.

Uproar In Punjab, Congress Leaders’ Contention

Punjab Congress leaders Pargat Singh and Vijay Inder Singh on Thursday said the centre’s decision to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) over a wide area in three states, including Punjab, is an attack on the federal structure of India. “BJP is trying to take away the rights of the states. They should not do this, they should not destroy federal structure… Punjabis have always stood together whether it was the freedom struggle or farmers’ protest.. we will fight against this too,” said Vijay Inder Singh.

Earlier on Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi also condemned the Centre’s decision and said that it is a “direct attack on federalism”. “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 Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision,” tweeted Channi.

What Does The Fresh Order On Increased Jurisdiction State

The Centre has empowered the BSF to conduct searches, arrest suspects and make seizures up to an area of 50 km inside Indian territory from the International Border (IB) along the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders. As per the fresh order, the BSF, which was only empowered to take action up to fifteen kilometres in the states of Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, has now been authorised to spread its jurisdiction up to 50 km without any hurdle or further permission either from central or state governments.

However, its jurisdiction has been cut short by 20 km in the five northeastern states– Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya– where it had jurisdiction up to 80 km. Similarly in Gujarat, the BSF’s jurisdiction has been curtailed from 80 to 50 km.

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In Rajasthan, the BSF’s area of jurisdiction will remain the same at 50 km. An officer of the rank corresponding to that of the lowest rank of member of the BSF is now empowered under the CrPC to exercise and discharge the powers and duties without an order from a Magistrate and without a warrant.

The officer is now empowered to arrest any person who has been concerned in any cognizable offence, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been received. A BSF officer has now been given the power to conduct a search of a place entered by a person sought to be arrested in its new area of jurisdiction.

(With inputs from ANI)

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