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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Punjab all-party meet seeks BSF order recall, Mamata says let states be

Addressing the media after the meeting that was called by him, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said the state will write to the Centre to withdraw the notification that expands the BSF’s jurisdiction for search, seizure and arrest to 50 km from the border — from the current 15 km — in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh, Kolkata |
Updated: October 26, 2021 8:11:44 am
Calling the corporate honchos and the industrialists the “wealth creators in the society and a source of opportunities to cherish the aspirations of the state’s youth”, Channi said Punjab “is the best place to do business in India” and would live up to their expectations. (File)

An all-party meeting in Punjab, barring the BJP, Monday passed a unanimous resolution rejecting the Centre’s notification enhancing the BSF’s jurisdiction in border states, and said Punjab would take the legislative route if the government did not withdraw the move.

Addressing the media after the meeting that was called by him, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said the state will write to the Centre to withdraw the notification that expands the BSF’s jurisdiction for search, seizure and arrest to 50 km from the border — from the current 15 km — in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. Channi said he and Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue, but were yet to receive a reply.

“We will call a special Vidhan Sabha session to cancel the notification if Centre does not do so,” Channi said, adding that they were ready to approach Supreme Court.

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Addressing the media at a meeting in Siliguri, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also said she had written a letter to the PM against “the attempt to interfere with the federal structure of the country”.

Saying that the state faced no problems in border areas to warrant such a move, she added: “Earlier, they had jurisdiction up till 15 km, there were incidents of firing in Balurghat or Cooch Behar. Now, they have extended it to 50 km. This is an attempt to interfere with the federal structure… We share very cordial relations [with neighbouring countries]. There is no need to create this confusion. Law and order is a state subject.”

Channi said all political parties in Punjab were on the same page on the matter. While AAP, the main Opposition party, and the Akali Dal attended the all-party meeting, the BJP stayed away.

The BSF has justified the expansion of jurisdiction on the grounds of uniformity, saying earlier it varied from state to state.

In Punjab, the new BSF jurisdiction limit covers most of the towns and the cities on the Amritsar-Jalandhar highway in Majha region. The Golden Temple, located in the centre of Amritsar, is less than 32 km from the zero line.

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was present at the all-party meeting, accused the Centre of misusing Central agencies. “Border can be 5 km, 7 km, how can it be 50 km into the state?” he said.

Linking the move to the upcoming Assembly polls, he said, “Whenever there are elections in Punjab, a ‘law and order situation’ is created. A State is being set up in another state… How is this not President’s rule?”

Accusing the BSF of human rights violations in West Bengal, Sidhu said there was no guarantee that a person detained by it would be handed over to local police within 24 hours, as required under the rules. If the decision had been taken “in national interest”, the Congress leader said: “… the best way to do it in a democratic country is to take states into confidence”.

The BJP boycotted the all-party meeting saying the BSF jurisdiction had been enhanced in all the border states, and that Punjab faced the problem of arms and drugs smuggling.

At the meeting, Channi also said that at its next session, the Punjab Assembly would scrap the three farm laws against which farmers have been protesting.

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