Chandigarh, October 16 (KMS): Urging all political parties in Indian Punjab to stop fighting among themselves and wage a united fight against Narendra Modi’s government’s decision to enhance the powers of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Punjab, five-time Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has termed the move an attempt to turn Punjab into a Union Territory through the back door by handing it over to Central security forces such as the BSF.
Badal said the Modi government’s decision would further weaken the already endangered federal structure of the country and reduce the State Government to the status of a municipality. “This will be a severe blow to the pride and dignity of Punjabis,” he said in a statement.
The former Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that the Centre had been usurping the rights of the States even on subjects that fell on the States List in the Constitution. He added the Centre had earlier enacted three laws on agriculture, a State subject, and now with this move on BSF deployment, they had again encroached on another State subject — law and order.
Mr. Badal appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the ‘encroachments’ rescinded, by revoking the three laws on agriculture and withdrawing the orders on BSF deployment.
“There is also strong ground to believe that the Centre might be preparing to rob the State of its legitimate rights on river waters. They might be conspiring to use this drastic new step to crush the farmers’ movement by blocking it at the farmers’ doorsteps in Punjab,” he added.
The former Chief Minister, who is also the patron-in-chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said his party would not rest on prestige and gladly join or follow any other party willing to lead the fight. “SAD wants no political limelight and would humbly cooperate with all other parties in a collective endeavour to safeguard Punjab’s interests. In fact, safeguarding Punjab’s interests is in the best overall interests of the country, as we are the sword arm of the nation,” he said.
Mr. Badal said by giving sweeping powers to the BSF, the Centre had rendered the Punjab police totally irrelevant.
“I am afraid we are back into the era of midnight knocks and searches of homes by security forces without valid orders or prior notice, and without any platform to seek relief as people can no longer turn to local leaders or officers for the redress of your grievances,” he observed.