Updated: November 22, 2021 10:28:15 pm
Amid the ongoing row over the extension of the BSF’s jurisdiction, Inspector General (Punjab Frontier) Sonali Mishra Saturday said the border force will only strengthen the Punjab Police whose powers remain intact.
“The power of the (Punjab) Police remains intact and we are only complementing them and assisting them and strengthening them,” said Mishra, a 1993-batch IPS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre.
The BSF IG’s remarks come two days after the Punjab Vidhan Sabha adopted a resolution against the Centre’s notification extending the BSF’s jurisdiction from existing 15 km to 50 km.
“The BSF is mandated to guard the border which is stretching to 553 km and our main role is to maintain the sanctity of the border, to create a sense of security among the border population and prevent trans-border crimes,” said Mishra while addressing a press conference.
She said the BSF troops have been conducting joint operations with the state police and various law enforcement agencies like the Narcotics Control Bureau.
“The BSF is not a policing organisation as a result of which the BSF does not have the power to register any FIR nor to do any investigation. We do not have any mandate to work under the Evidence Act and the IPC. So, when we hand over any seized material to any of the law enforcement agencies, they go ahead with registering FIR, conducting the investigation, booking the culprits and bringing it to the logical conclusion by filing charge sheet in the court,” the IG added.
She said that BSF in 1969 was granted powers to arrest, search and make seizures under certain laws such as the Foreigners Act 1967, Customs Act, NDPS Act, and Arms Act. The force’s jurisdiction extended till 15 kms in Punjab along the international border, 50 km in Rajasthan and 80 km in Gujarat. The Centre, through three notifications last month under provisions of CrPC 1973, Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920 and Passport Act 1967, uniformly extended the BSF’s jurisdiction within a belt of 50 km along the border.
Mishra said, “We have always maintained cooperation and coordination with the state police.”
She did not comment on the resolution passed by the Assembly, which among other things, had dubbed the Centre’s move of extending the BSF’s territorial jurisdiction as an “insult” and an “expression of distrust” towards the state police and the people of Punjab.
Drones big challenge
Mishra termed the drones as one of the biggest challenges. She said the anti-national elements were now using better drones with lesser noise and capable of flying at a higher level for smuggling and other illegal purposes.
In 2019, the drones were found to be coming up to 2 km from the border and they used to fly at a lesser height, she said, adding, “ But with time, they (anti-national elements) are using better drones and better software. As per the discussion with the Punjab Police, there have been cases in which the droppings were made even 6 km inside the state from the international border,” she said.
Replying to a question, she said the BSF had sighted 12 drones in 2019, 32 in 2020 and 45 in 2021.
The IG said the government has already approved funds for counter-drone technology and added, “We have one of the agencies in the government of India as the nodal agency for working on various technologies on drones.” “A lot of work is going on and a lot of trials are taking place and we should soon have some technology,” she said.
She said this year so far, the BSF has recovered 387 kg of heroin and 55 weapons besides making 77 arrests and eliminating six Pakistan smugglers.
Mishra,who assumed the charge of the new IG of the BSF’s Punjab Frontier headquartered in the Jalandhar in July this year, said the force is sympathetic to the issue of farmers who have agricultural land between the border fencing and are facing loss in income due to restrictions in half dozen districts of Amritsar, Fazilka, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Tarn Taran. She said Centre has sanctioned Rs 35.36 crore as its share of 50 per cent compensation to farmers and a matching amount will be released by Punjab government. From 2015 to 2017 BSF has paid Rs 24.03 crore compensation to the farmers in Punjab, she informed.
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