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Bengal passes resolution against extension of BSF jurisdiction

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee moved it under Rule 169 of the House's Procedures of Conduct of Business
Partha Chatterjee.
Partha Chatterjee.
File photo

Our Bureau And Agencies   |   Calcutta   |   Published 16.11.21, 10:21 PM

The West Bengal Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution against the Centre's decision to extend BSF's jurisdiction, amid opposition by BJP legislators.

West Bengal, which is governed by the Trinamool Congress, became the second state after Congress-ruled Punjab, where such a resolution has been tabled and passed.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee moved the resolution under Rule 169 of the House's Procedures of Conduct of Business. It was passed with 112 voting in favour of it and 63 opposing it.

The resolution said the House believed that increasing the BSF's jurisdiction was against the country's federal structure, as law and order is a State subject. It stated that the notification exceeded the provision of the BSF Act and that it would lead to coordination issues between the State police and the BSF.

''We demand that this decision be withdrawn immediately as enhancing the area of jurisdiction of the BSF is a direct attack on the country's federal structure,'' he said.

''We have nothing against the BSF as a force, there are many good officers, but at the same time, there are others who torture people residing near the border. This is an attempt by the Centre to control a portion of the state,'' Chatterjee said.

The BJP-led central government recently amended the BSF Act to authorise the force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a larger 50 km stretch, instead of 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.

Chatterjee wondered if the BSF is unable to control infiltration and illegal activities within 15 kilometres, how is it possible that it will ''succeed in doing it within 50 kilometres,'' Unruly scenes were witnessed in the House after TMC MLA Udayan Guha, during his speech, accused some BSF personnel of touching women inappropriately in border areas in the name of frisking.

''We have seen the kind of atrocities that BSF perpetrates on people. A child who has witnessed his mother being touched inappropriately under the garb of frisking, when she returns from the field, can never be patriotic, no matter how many times you chant 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' in front of him. These incidents give birth to anti-social elements,'' he said on the floor of the House. Guha's remark drew a sharp reaction from the BJP, which termed it an ''insult to the security forces.'' BJP MLAs opposed the remark and demanded that it be expunged. Speaker Biman Banerjee, however, refrained from expunging Guha's comment.

''Such comments are not only unacceptable but also an insult to our security forces. Security forces are the pride of our nation. These remarks reflect the mindset of TMC MLAs,'' BJP legislator Sreerupa Mitra Chowdhury said.

After BJP MLA Mihir Goswami objected to his comments, Guha said one of his (Goswami's) leg has been fractured the second one too will be broken.

The Speaker condemned the statement and asked both the MLAs to behave.

Reacting to Guha's accusation, BSF ADG Y B Khurania later said BSF 'mahila praharis' (women guards) are deployed in border areas for frisking women.

''Such comments are very demoralising for the force. Around 2397 Mahila praharis are there under the Eastern Command for frisking women at the gates,'' he said.

The force has zero tolerance towards such acts as told by the MLA, the BSF official said.

Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari said the language used against a force like the BSF is unacceptable.

''When the Union government tries to withdraw central forces from Junglemahal, the state government opposes the move. And now, the same government is opposing the enhancement of BSF's jurisdiction. Under this new rule (jurisdiction extension), there is no question of conflict between the state police and the BSF,'' Adhikari stated.

He said the BJP legislative party would request the Centre to extend the BSF's jurisdiction up to 80 KM.

Adhikari alleged that terrorists are entering the state using the porous border.

''Our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had written a letter to the Prime Minister on the issue. Let us wait for its outcome. Till then, this resolution should be put on hold. Secondly, the resolution passed under rule 169 doesn't have any legal validity,'' he said.

The opposition Congress and the Left Front, which doesn't have any representation in the state assembly, have also opposed the move to increase the BSF's jurisdiction. In separate letters to Banerjee, Left Front chairman Biman Bose and state Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury urged her to oppose the Centre's decision.

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