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Extension of BSF's jurisdiction evokes mixed response

 
Guwahati/Agartala, Oct 14 (IANS) A day after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) extended BSF's area of operational jurisdiction in three states -- Punjab, West Bengal and Assam -- within a belt of 50 km from the international borders, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday supported the move, while the CPI-M and the Trinamool Congress strongly opposed it.

As per the MHA order, the Border Security Force (BSF) has now been empowered to take action within a belt of 50 km in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam running along the borders of India. Earlier, the BSF had jurisdiction till only 15 km in these states.

Supporting the MHA decision, Sarma tweeted, "Assam welcomes the extension of BSF's operational jurisdiction. In coordination with the state police, this move will serve as a strong deterrent to cross-border smuggling and illegal infiltration. It will strengthen national security and national interest."

However, the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the CPI-M in Tripura have strongly opposed the MHA decision.

Terming the Centre's decision as "infringement" on the rights of the state, Trinamool Congress General Secretary Kunal Ghosh said the MHA decision must be opposed.

"The MHA decision is interference in the states' affairs through the back door. The Trinamool Congress is looking into the matter with all seriousness. Appropriate comments and reactions on the issue would be communicated," said Ghosh, who is also the spokesperson of Trinamool.

CPI-M's Tripura state Secretary Jitendra Chaudhury said that the MHA decision is "unilateral and interference in the federal structure of the country".

"If the decision to extend the BSF's operational jurisdiction is necessary for the interest of the country's security, it should have been discussed in the National Development Council or in an appropriate national platform.

"The Centre's decision reflects authoritarian mentality. Such unilateral decisions always undermine the states' constitutional rights," said Chaudhury, a former MP who is also the member of the CPI-M central committee.

Slamming the Centre for amending Section 139 of the BSF Act to give the force wider jurisdiction and terming it as tantamount to an attack on federalism, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa on Wednesday asked Home Minister Amit Shah to withdraw the decision.

On Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi had also condemned the decision, terming it as a "direct attack on federalism".

The BSF is deployed in five eastern states sharing international borders with Bangladesh -- West Bengal (2,216 km), Tripura (856 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km).

--IANS
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