‘Attack on federalism’: Congress, SAD question Centre’s order empowering BSF in Punjab

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Chandigarh: The central government’s new notification of giving more power to the Border Security Force (BSF) in the border state of Punjab has irked certain political parties.

While condemning the new notification Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said, “I strongly condemn the Government of India’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 Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision.”

According to the notification, the Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the jurisdiction of BSF in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam.

With the newly given power, the BSF can make arrests and carry out search operations with or without taking the help of the state police.

Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) described the move as an assault on federal principle. In a statement, senior Akali leader and former minister Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said that this was a frontal assault on the federal principle through highly questionable misuse of constitutional provisions.  He said that it was shocking that the BSF has been given sweeping powers divesting the state police of even the normal policing duties.

It is pertinent to mention that the Government of India has been issuing border area development funds to the border states to develop 20 km stretch.

“As per the constitution, only the state government can call out the central forces to aid and assist the state administration.  The Center cannot thrust these forces on the state without a formal request from the state government,” said Dr Cheema.

On the other hand, Punjab’s former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh through a tweet said, “Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more and more weapons and drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence and powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics.”

He further said, “Partisan considerations can’t and shouldn’t dictate our stand on issues of national security. I’d said that at the time of the 2016 surgical strikes and am saying it again. We’ve to rise above politics when India’s security is at stake, as it is now.”

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