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Centre extends BSF jurisdiction in Punjab, West Bengal, Assam- Here’s WHY


The Centre has recently sparked a row with its latest decision to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) across three states along the national borders, namely- Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. This new decision of the central government has attracted a lot of criticism from opposition parties.

The government has decided to amend the BSF Act in these three states, which will give them the authorization to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a larger radius from the international borders. Earlier, the jurisdiction was along a 15 km stretch, but now this has been extended to a 50 km stretch.

How has the BSF jurisdiction changed?

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an official notification on October 11, in which it amended the BSF Act in three states that share international borders with neighbouring countries. The area jurisdiction of the BSF across the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders in Punjab, Assam and West Bengal has been extended.

Though the BSF jurisdiction in these three states has been extended, the jurisdiction in Gujarat, which shares a border with Pakistan, has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km. Further, BSF will also be able to search and arrest in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Ladakh.

Meanwhile, no specific boundaries for BSF jurisdiction have been set for the five northeastern states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur and for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Why has the BSF jurisdiction been extended?

From what can be understood, the extension of the jurisdiction has been done to increase security across the international borders and empower the Border Security Force to execute searches and arrests in larger areas under those committing offences under the Passport Act, the Registration of Foreigners Act, the Central Excises and Salt Act, the Foreigners Act and others.

As per media reports, the BSF officials have said that trans-border crimes will be prevented through this new move of the central government. They have also said that this will bring uniformity to BSF operations that are conducted in border states.

In a statement, the BSF said, “The amendment effected on October 11 establishes uniformity in defining the area within which Border Security Force can operate as per its charter of duties and execution of its role and task of border guarding in its areas of deployment.”

Punjab CM speaks out against move

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has expressed his discontent with the motion put forward by the central government, which will allow BSF to operate in a 50 km stretch across the India-Pakistan border in the state, saying that this is a ‘direct attack on federalism.’

CM Channi posted on Twitter, “I strongly condemn the government of India`s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 km belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on federalism. I urge Union Home Minister Amit Shah to immediately roll back this irrational decision.”

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