Updated: December 10, 2021 12:12:40 pm
As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday once again brought up the Centre’s decision to extend the BSF’s jurisdiction in border states, asking state police to not allow BSF personnel to enter villages without their permission, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar in a letter to the CM said that her “stance is potentially alarming for federal polity and national security”.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently issued an order extending the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) from 15km to 50km in West Bengal, Assam and Punjab – states that share their borders with Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Both the West Bengal and Punjab governments subsequently passed Assembly resolutions opposing the Centre’s move.
Speaking at an administrative review meeting at Krishnanagar in Nadia district, the chief minister directed the district police to carry out searches at security checkpoints (naaka) more rigorously. “The border with Bangladesh starts from Karimpur, and you have to keep an eye on all activities in the area. You also need to ensure that the BSF does not enter the border villages and carry out any activity without your knowledge or permission. The BSF will do what it is mandated to, while the police will take care of police work. Law and order is a state subject and is in the domain of the police. I will not tolerate any kind of oppression on common citizens,” she told officers.
Later in the day, Governor Dhankhar wrote to the chief minister, urging her to revisit her directives with regard to the BSF. “In a state having international borders with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, the BSF and Central Armed Police Forces play a significantly well defined and crucial role from the perspective of national security and containing criminal illegal activities. There is an obvious need to generate bonhomie and not confrontation: cooperation and not combat amongst these agencies and State apparatus,” Dhankhar wrote.
He said that to ensure cooperation with the BSF, it is “expedient that the law and order agencies of the State and the CAPF play their respective roles and perform their assigned duties in a coordinated and synergical manner to ensure overall safety and security”.
Urging the CM to consider revisiting her stance on the functioning of BSF “to generate an environment of harmony and cooperation”, Dhankhar wrote: “Towards this, appropriate sensitization of the State apparatus is called for so that mutual confidence is bolstered, coordination and cooperation is enhanced amongst the various State and Central Security agencies that need to work in tandem and togetherness. This imperatively calls for in public and national interest, that your directives, instructions as also stance regarding the functioning of BSF in the State be revisited so as to generate an environment of harmony and cooperation.”
Echoing Dhankhar, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari accused the chief minister Mamata Banerjee of driving a wedge between the BSF and the state police. “I wonder how, the Chief Minister of a State, bound by the oath taken by her, to bear true faith and allegiance towards the Constitution of India & supposed to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India; could repeatedly malign @BSF_India, who are assigned to do just that,” BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari tweeted.
He drew the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Governor Dhankhar on the issue and requested the Raj Bhawan to inform the Rashtrapati Bhawan about it.
I wonder how, the Chief Minister of a State, bound by the oath taken by her, to bear true faith and allegiance towards the Constitution of India & supposed to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India; could repeatedly malign @BSF_India, who are assigned to do just that.
— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) December 9, 2021
“She is a repeat offender, wilfully trying to drive a wedge between @BSF_India & @WBPolice. Kindly request @PMOIndia, @HMOIndia, @DefenceMinIndia to take this into cognizance. WB Governor @jdhankhar1 Ji, please apprise Hon’ble @rashtrapatibhvn regarding this matter,” he said in a series of tweets.
Reacting to the Governor’s letter, TMC state general secretary Kunal Ghosh said Governor Dhankhar should stop behaving like a “BJP spokesperson”.
“The Governor should maintain the dignity of his office. He should stop behaving like a BJP spokesperson. He is talking about federal polity and national security. We would like to know his stance on the demand by a BJP MLA on the separation of Darjeeling hills from West Bengal. Why is he silent on it,” Ghosh asked.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader and party’s Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, said the chief minister is well within her rights about alerting the police and flagging the issue of BSF atrocities against villagers in many border villages.
For the last couple of days, Banerjee has been directing the police administration not to allow BSF to breach its jurisdiction limits and get involved in the law and order of the state. She had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in November and demanded a rollback of the decision.
At her administrative review meet in Uttar Dinajpur on Tuesday, Banerjee said that BSF personnel occasionally enter border villages. “But they can’t go into villages like this. I am asking the inspectors in-charge of all police stations in border areas to go to the spot if there’s an incident and, if necessary, talk to the DG, BSF,” the CM had said.
(With PTI Inputs)
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