New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday said all the parties in the state have unanimously passed a resolution demanding a roll back of Centre’s notification on increased jurisdiction of the Border Security Forces (BSF). “If the government doesn’t do it, parties have decided that a session of Vidhan Sabha be called over this,” he said after an all-party meet. Except the BJP, representatives of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Lok Insaaf Party and other parties attended the meeting.
“As this is a matter related to Punjab and Punjabis, law and order is a state subject and it’s like a raid on our rights in the federal structure, all political parties in Punjab will come together in the fight to make Centre withdraw the notification,” said Channi.
Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu also attacked the Centre over the issue of jurisdiction of the BSF, accusing it of “weakening the federal structure by creating a state within a state”. He also slammed the government for “disregarding the democratic rights of the people of Punjab” with extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF), and expressed fear of “torture, false cases, arbitrary detention and illegal arrests” in the state.
The Union government had recently amended the BSF Act to authorise the force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a 50 km stretch, up from the existing 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Sidhu slammed the Centre as he participated in an all-party meeting chaired by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, convened to deliberate on the issue of jurisdiction of the BSF.
“Centre is weakening country’s federal structure, by creating ‘a State within a State’ BSF means Border Security Force, What is definition of border? 50 Kms?? Public order, which connotes public peace & safety is primarily the responsibility of State Govt (Entry 1, State list),” tweeted Sidhu.
BSF ‘Daily Violated’ Constitutional Provision In Name Of Security: Sidhu
He alleged that the BSF “daily violated” the constitutional provision of the country in the name of security in West Bengal and “there is a possibility that instances of torture, false cases, arbitrary detention and illegal arrests would happen in Punjab too”.
“There are a number of cases in West Bengal where BSF did not inform local police after firing incidents. The Bengal government in the last five years had lodged a total of 240 cases accusing BSF of extra-judicial torture, 60 cases of extrajudicial execution and eight cases of forced disappearance.
“Of these, in 33 cases, the NHRC recommended compensation to the victims or to their next of kin. If UP Police can illegally detain @priyankagandhi Ji for more than 60 hours without any valid reason, Who takes guarantee of a common person if BSF detains him/her,” the Congress leader said in a series of tweets.
He further said “without obtaining consent of the state government, the notification amounts to encroachment on constitutional rights of the states, disregarding the democratic powers of the people of Punjab vested in the state legislature and state executive”.
Attempt To Interfere In Federal Structure: Mamata Banerjee
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also criticised the Centre’s move, alleging that it is an attempt to interfere into the federal structure of the country. Banerjee said the state, shares an international border with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, has no problems in the border areas.
“About the BSF matter, we have sent a letter protesting the move. Earlier, they had jurisdiction of 15 km, there were incidents of firing in Balurghat or Cooch Behar. Now, they extended it to 50 km. This is an attempt to interfere into the federal structure of the country,” Banerjee said at an administrative review meeting here.
“We do not have problems in the border areas and share very cordial relations (with neighbouring countries). There is no need to create this confusion. Law and order is a state subject. BSF must look after what they are responsible for and we will have total support for that,” she said.
Banerjee had on Sunday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately withdraw the Union Home Ministry’s notification that extended the jurisdiction of BSF.
(With PTI inputs)