A day after the Union home ministry issued a notification extending the jurisdiction of the BSF in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam where the central force will be able to frisk and conduct search operations within a larger 50- km stretch instead of the existing 15 kms, the Trinamool Congress came down heavily on the Centre. It alleged that this was an “infringement” on the rights of the state and an attack on the federal structure of the country.
Demanding its withdrawal, the TMC claimed the decision was taken without consulting the West Bengal government. “We oppose this decision. This is an infringement on the rights of the state. What was the sudden need to enhance the BSF’s jurisdiction without informing the state government?” TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
Ghosh wrote in a Twitter message, “The decision to extend BSF’s jurisdiction within the borders from 15 kilometres to 50 kilometres is unacceptable. This is direct interference in the areas that are under the jurisdiction of the state government. Trinamool Congress is taking the matter seriously. We will place our opinion on this issue,” Ghosh said.
On Wednesday, the Union home ministry issued a notification enhancing the mandate of the BSF in the states of West Bengal, Punjab and Assam where the central force will be able to conduct search operations within a 50-km radius from the border. The BSF will not only have the power to confiscate property within that area but will also share equal power with the state police on this count.
Though the MHA clarified that lately there has been an alarming increase in illegal arms smuggled from across the borders and the extension of the BSF’s mandate was done to arrest this trend, the Trinamool Congress said that it is a direct intervention in the state’s jurisdiction.
According to Ghosh, since law and order is a state subject the extended powers to the BSF will lead to an unnecessary tussle. Also, this will not only create tension between the BSF and the state police but will lead to chaos. He felt that this will ultimately result in unnecessary tension and deterioration in the law and order situation in the border areas.
“If the BSF has to conduct any search, they can always do it along with the state police. This has been the practice for years. It is an attack on the federal structure,” he added. “The Centre and Home Minister Amit Shah are trying to weaken the states. BSF doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to human rights in border villages,” another senior TMC leader said.
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury warned the Union Home Ministry of “consequences” over the move. “The expansion of #BSF area of jurisdiction upto 50 km from border of some states amounts to brazen infringement upon the territory of states. HMO India (Home Ministry), you should not indulge in any ‘Chherkhani’ (meddling) else (you) will face the consequences,” he said in a tweet.