The Union Home Ministry has decided to further expand the power and scope of the Border Security Force (BSF). Now the BSF can conduct arrests, search operations and seizures within 50 km of the International Border in Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. BSF is a central paramilitary force. BSF will also get this power in the new Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. This information has been given in the gazette published on October 11.
Earlier, the BSF had this right within 80 km of the international border in Gujarat, besides 15 km in Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has opposed this decision of the central government and said that it is an attack on the federal structure of India. Channi has demanded to withdraw this decision. Criticizing this decision,
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi tweeted, "I strongly condemn this unilateral decision of the Government of India. This is a direct attack on the federal structure of India. I request Union Home Minister Amit Shah to withdraw this unreasonable decision."
I strongly condemn the GoI's unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 KM belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on the federalism. I urge the Union Home Minister @AmitShah to immediately rollback this irrational decision.— Charanjit S Channi (@CHARANJITCHANNI) October 13, 2021
The notification dated 11 October has superseded the decision taken in 2014 under the BSF Act, 1968. The extension that BSF has got under this notification includes Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya. In August 2019, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two parts as a Union Territory. But in the decision taken in 2014 under the BSF Act, 1968, the name of Jammu and Kashmir was not there. However, a similar amendment in 1973 had reference to Jammu and Kashmir.
Modi had criticized a similar move as CM
The BSF can now conduct arrests, search operations and seizures in drug smuggling, other prohibited items, illegal entry of foreigners as well as other illegal activities under the rules of the Central Government. Notably, in 2012, when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the proposed amendment in the BSF Act, 1968.