BSF row: All-party meet decides to pass House resolution

BSF


DW BUREAU / CHANDIGARH All political parties except the BJP have unanimously decided to reject the Centre's notification of extending the jurisdiction of the BSF by calling a Punjab Assembly session. The move came following an all-party meeting convened by Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi here on Monday to deliberate on the issue of jurisdiction of the Border Security Force. The Punjab BJP boycotted the meeting. Representatives of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Lok Insaaf Party and other parties attended the meeting. The Union government had recently amended the BSF Act to authorise the border guarding force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a 50 km stretch, up from the existing 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. Addressing reporters, Channi said the meeting was held in a conducive atmosphere and representatives of the political parties passed a resolution that the notification which extended the BSF's area of operation should be rejected. "By calling the Vidhan Sabha session, all (the parties) will jointly reject the notification. All parties are unanimous on it," Channi said while thanking representatives of all the parties for their complete support in the 'Yagya'. Channi told the central government that the Punjab government was capable of securing the state while asserting that law and order was a state subject. He assured all political parties that the posts of chief minister and ministers do not matter to them before the interests of Punjab. "We are ready to make any sacrifice but will not allow Punjab's interests to be looted," he said. The decision about convening the Vidhan Sabha session will be taken in the next Cabinet meeting. Channi further said the government will also approach the Supreme Court over this matter. Meanwhile, the chief minister said the Centre's three "black" laws on farming will also be rejected in the coming assembly session. When told that the Opposition was blaming him for agreeing to the extension of the BSF jurisdiction during his meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Channi rejected the charge and said he had raised several issues including the curbing of drugs smuggling from across the border. Talking to the media, Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu accused the Centre of "weakening the federal structure by creating a state within a state."He also slammed it for "disregarding the democratic rights of the people of Punjab" by extending the BSF's jurisdiction and expressed fear of "torture, false cases, arbitrary detention and illegal arrests" against them. He called it a "political move" of the central government for its "vested interests" while questioning the timing of its move just a few months ahead of the assembly polls. There is no official explanation given till now by the government of India, he stated. He alleged that after the CBI, ED and various other institutions, now the BJP will use the BSF to interfere in the autonomy of states ruled by opposition parties. "As the BJP can never win Punjab, it is creating unrest, so that peaceful elections don't happen in Punjab. As no one will vote for the BJP in Punjab, they are using the BSF and central forces to rule Punjab, and bring a President's rule like situation'," Sidhu alleged later in a statement. "The BJP is trying to impose President rule in Punjab under the guise of national security and will start harassing Punjabis. If it's in the national interest, the best way to do it in a democratic country is to take the states in confidence and convince them of the need for taking the required action in the interest of the state and the country," he said. The Punjab BJP, on the other hand, accused the Congress government of playing petty politics over the issue of national security. Punjab BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia said the move of extending the BSF's jurisdiction is meant to protect the national interests and stated that they had decided to boycott the all-party meeting. He further said the powers of the BSF had been extended to stop anti-country activities. Another Punjab BJP leader Subhash Sharma accused the state government of using the national security issue for petty politics and alleged that it was trying to divert attention from the burning issues of the state. (editor@dailyworld.in)




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