Channi seeks Modi’s relook into law enlarging BSF jurisdiction

Chandigarh, October 23 (KMS):  Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to have a relook into the central legislation enlarging the Border Security Force’s (BSF’s) territorial jurisdiction up to 50 km in the state from the Indo-Pak border.

In a letter written to PM Modi, Mr Channi also urged him to restore the BSF’s territorial jurisdiction, limiting it only up to 15 km in the state from the international border, as earlier.

He made the plea arguing that the restoration of the territorial jurisdiction of the border guarding force will help the BSF and Punjab police work together amicably.

Mr Channi also sought an appointment with PM Modi to discuss the issue.

Mr Channi wrote to the PM on a day one of his Cabinet ministers dubbed the central legislation extending the BSF’s territorial jurisdiction as the Centre’s “fourth black law” after its three farm laws.

Arguing that the police and law and order are subjects under the State List of the Constitution, the Punjab chief minister asserted that in a federal set up these matters are to be handled by the state government.

“By conferring powers of police officers to search, seizure and arrest people upon the BSF, not only for the prevention of offences punishable under various Acts but also for any cognisable offence punishable under any other Central Act without consulting the state governments or obtaining their concurrence, amounts to encroachment upon the powers and role of the state by the Centre,” the chief minister asserted.

He further accused the central government of trying to weaken the spirit of federalism and disturb the federal structure of the Constitution.

In his letter to the PM, Mr Channi argued that the BSF is trained to perform its primary duty of guarding and securing the international border and to act as the first line of defence.

He also contended that policing in the hinterland is the duty and responsibility of the state police.

Making a strong plea to review the entire matter, Mr Channi asserted that there are no justifiable reasons for unilaterally changing the existing arrangements by the government of India now.

The Union government has 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.

Punjab has over 500 km of international border with Pakistan and more than 80 per cent of the total area of the border districts — Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur, Fazilka — and all the major towns and cities, including all the headquarters of these border districts, fall within 50 km from the Indo-Pak border, Mr Channi pointed out.

Meanwhile, Punjab’s Soil and Water Conservation Minister Rana Gurjeet Singh dubbed the central legislation extending the BSF territorial jurisdiction up to 50 km from the Indo-Pak border inside the state as the Centre’s “fourth black law” after its farm laws.

Mr Singh, who also holds the portfolios of Technical Education and Employment Generation ministries, said the increase in the BSF’s jurisdiction from earlier 15 km to 50 km is the “fourth black law imposed by the Centre on Punjab”.

Addressing a gathering in Hoshiarpur after laying the foundation stone for an irrigation project using treated water, Mr Singh said the Centre earlier had imposed three farm laws and now the more powers to BSF is another “black law” against Punjab.

“The Punjab government will strongly oppose this arbitrary decision,” the minister said.