Reiterating his allegation of a “nexus” between personnel of the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers for smuggling, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said a faster rotation of BSF jawans deployed along the India-Pakistan border would help the fight against drugs in the state. Amarinder’s statement to The Indian Express in an interview echoes the stand of the previous SAD-BJP government in the state which had also maintained that the smuggling of drugs from across the highly guarded border was not possible without the complicity of BSF personnel. Amarinder said this had been his view long before the SAD-BJP government ever raised it.
“I had raised this issue with the union government in my previous stint as CM. I had told the then home minister LK Advani too about the nexus which the local BSF troopers develop with Pakistan Rangers and had suggested that the rotation of BSF personnel every year,” Amarinder said, adding that Advani had replied that faster rotation of battalions would prove be a drainage on the exchequer to move them so soon.
“I still think that the battalions must be rotated every year to break this nexus because these are simple jawans who get lured by the big money,” said Amarinder.
A senior Punjab Police officer with the Special Task Force (STF) set up by the CM to crack down on the drugs trade said it was interesting to note that the BSF too had started recovering huge quantities of drugs along the border ever since the Punjab government started its drive. As per the data made available by the BSF’s Punjab Frontier Headquarters based in Jalandhar, there has been seizure of approximately 24 kgs (worth Rs 120 crore) of heroin in the past few days alone. These seizures have been made in three different areas of responsibility of BSF – Daoke in Amritsar sector, Khalra in Ferozepur sector and Joga Fauja Singh in Abohar sector.
Amarinder Singh also said the government would rope in the services of ex-servicemen in the border areas of the state in order to control the drugs menace from across the border. “We will strengthen our second lines of defence in this regard and the ex-servicemen will be used as part of our ‘Guardians of Governance’ initiative,” he said.
Former Director General of BSF Prakash Singh, however, has different views. Reacting to Capt Amarinder’s statement, he said, “There can be individual instances of BSF people indulging in drug smuggling, but sweeping generalisations cannot be made. Such cases should be brought the the notice of BSF authorities. When I was there with BSF, there was a posting tenure of two years. I don’t know about the present situation, but there is a rotation of battalions. Posting tenure of one year might not be feasible.”
He said that drug menace was a much bigger issue and that Capt Amarinder should “hit at the politicians”.
“As I understand, the drug menace has a political patronage. Captain Amarinder should hit at the politicians and they should be sent to jails,” he said.