Punjab opposes giving more powers to BSF

Slamming the Centre for amending Section 139 of the BSF Act to give the border and guarding force wider jurisdiction and terming it tantamount to an attack on federalism, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa on Wednesday asked Union Home Minister Amit Shah to withdraw the decision.

Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) described the decision as Central rule in the state through the back door.

In a statement, Randhawa, who also holds the Home portfolio, said “this illogical decision was absolutely against the spirit of the raising the border guarding forces, which were required to focus on the international border and act as the first line of defence”.

He said policing in the hinterland is not the role of a border guarding force, rather it would weaken the capacity of the Border Security Force (BSF) in discharging its primary duty of guarding the international border.

He said that he would personally call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Home Minister to resolve this issue.

Meanwhile, the SAD described the move to hand over almost half of the state to the BSF as “the imposition of the President’s rule through the back door in nearly half of Punjab”.

“This virtually turns the state into a de facto Union territory. This devious attempt to place the state directly under the Central rule must and will be opposed,” senior Akali leader and former minister Daljit Singh Cheema said in a statement.

He said this was at the same time, “a frontal assault on the federal principle through highly questionable misuse of constitutional provisions”.

Cheema said it was shocking the BSF has been given sweeping powers divesting the state police of even the normal policing duties.

“As per the Constitution, only the state government can call out the Central forces to aid and assist the state administration. The Centre cannot thrust these forces on the state without a formal request from the state government,” he said.

The Akali leader also called upon Chief Minister Charanjit Channi to come clean on the state government’s stand on the sensitive issue.