BSF’s Punjab Frontier IG declares increased jurisdiction to strengthen police

Jalandhar: Two days after the government of the Punjab passed a resolution against the Interior Ministry’s (MHA) notification to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) from 15 km to 50 km from the Pakistani border in the Punjab Punjab Frontier (IG) Inspector General Sonali Mishra said on Saturday that the move was aimed at strengthening and complementing the Punjab’s police force.

Mishra said the BSF has been deployed to the 553 km long Indo-Pakistan international border to prevent infiltration, drug smuggling, arms smuggling and ensure the cross-border arrest of people. “But under the emerging national security threat to the Western theater, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, the challenges have escalated, becoming complex and complicated. Over the past two years, one of the biggest challenges has come in the form of drones along the international border, ”she said.

Addressing a press conference at BSF Punjab Frontier headquarters in Jalandhar, Mishra said: “This year, the BSF has so far reported 45 incidents of drone sightings. Recently, drones have been spotted twice in the Amritsar area. In one case, BSF troops heard the noise, saw drugs falling and seized six kg of heroin. It is for national security and in the interest of the nation that the jurisdiction of the BSF has been increased in the Punjab.

Notably, former chief minister Amarinder Singh had long raised the issue of drone sightings, drug supply, national security and threats to Punjab across the border. After his ouster, he attacked Congress for opposing the Narendra Modi government’s decision to increase the jurisdiction of the BSF in the Punjab.

The BSF IG said the organization had noticed an increase in drone activity since 2019. “Earlier, according to the findings of the Punjab police, drones were entering an area of ​​up to 1.5 to 2. km and would fly at a lower height. But now they get inside for up to six km. Earlier we could hear the sound of drones and see them too. They were using flashing lights for smuggling and we could transport our exercises. “

She said drones coming across the border are equipped with better software and GPS, fly at higher heights and can carry a payload of up to 10kg. “They masked the flashing lights and sometimes even the drone’s hum is not audible due to their ability to fly at high altitudes,” IG Mishra said.

However, when asked about the growing apprehension among the people of the Punjab that the increase in jurisdiction would cause them problems, IG Mishra said: “Even with the 15 km layout, we had a lot of areas under our control, did we? have you ever heard of such apprehensions then?

Asked about the Punjab government’s resolution against the MHA notification, she replied, “I cannot comment on this”.

According to information provided by the BSF, the agency has so far this year seized 387 kg of drugs, recovered 55 weapons, apprehended 77 people and killed six people trying to infiltrate across the border. In addition, 15 people were handed over to Pakistan.

What are the powers of the BSF?

Since 1969, the OSB has had the power to stop, search and seize under certain laws and statutes. These powers extended up to 15 km in Punjab (before the recent expansion), 50 km in Rajasthan and 80 km in Gujarat.

The Union Government issued three notifications on October 11 under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Passport (Entry into India) Act of 1920 and the Passport Act of 1967, uniformly extending jurisdiction of the BSF in a 50 km belt along the border in Punjab. The territorial jurisdiction of the BSF under the NDPS Law of 1985, the Arms Law of 1959 and the Customs Law of 1962 remains the same, i.e. 15 km, as previously notified to the Punjab along the border.

IG Mishra said the BSF has no policing power, as it does not have the power to register an FIR or conduct investigations. “Whenever a seizure is made, we hand it over to the police or other law enforcement agencies, which in the case of drugs is the BCN. Law enforcement agencies register an FIR, identify the culprits and investigate the case. Therefore, the power of the police remains. Rather, the BSF works in tandem with security agencies like the Department of Tax and Customs Intelligence and others to protect the border, ”she said.

IG Sonali Mishra, BSF border in Punjab, and other officials at a press conference in Jalandhar on Saturday. Photo: By appointment

What political leaders are saying

Two-time MP Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Virsa Singh Valtoha said, “We have nothing against the BSF. It is a highly professional paramilitary force. But we doubt the movements of the Union government. If the Modi government tries to put the BSF into state law and order, it will certainly create a problem. “

Valtoha, who is the party’s candidate for the Khemkaran assembly seat in the upcoming elections, added that while it is important that those involved in drugs and cross-border crime be arrested, “the need of the hour was a better technological boost in terms of jammers, night vision devices for the troops ”.

“Instead of focusing on strengthening the BSF, the government has only increased its competence, which is unfair,” he said.

Khemkaran constituency has more than a dozen villages located along the border. Valtoha claimed that when the BSF’s jurisdiction was 15 km, the organization did not have enough troops to delegate a jawan with people who farm along the international border. “From now on, the jurisdiction of the BSF has been extended to 50 km. Will they be able to provide jaws for every farmer? It is an attack on the federal structure of the country, ”he added.

Khadoor Sahib Headquarters Congressman Jasbir Singh Dimpa also said that although the party holds the BSF in high regard, it protests the decision of the BJP-led government, which “infringes” on state rights. . “Whether it is agricultural laws or the enhanced jurisdiction of the BSF, we strongly condemn the decisions of the government. The BSF jawans are employees of the Union government, but the way they have been used by the BJP to advance its agenda is a new low, ”he said.

Stakes for farmers in border areas

The Sangharsh Border Zone Committee is an organization of farmers who have agricultural land between the border fence and the international border (IB) in six border districts – Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Tarn Taran, Fazilka, Ferozepur and Pathankot districts of Punjab. The organization organized a demonstration on November 11 against the decision of the Union government to increase the competence of the BSF.

Rattan Singh Randhawa, who led the protest, said in a press release that the BJP was using the BSF to harass farmers. He said the move was aimed at putting pressure on Punjabi farmers who have been protesting the three farm laws for nearly a year.

The farmers also claimed that the Modi government had yet to release monetary compensation for farmers who owned land between the barbed wire fence and the zero line at the Indo-Pakistan border. However, IG Mishra said the BSF released Rs 24.03 crore out of Rs 35.36 crore released by the government for the period 2015-2017. “Another amount of Rs 35.36 crore for 2018-2021 has already been sanctioned by the government,” she added.

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