Amidst the political tussle over the order of the Home Ministry to give more powers to the BSF, experts associated with the security forces have mixed opinions on this. While a former DGP from Punjab feels that the Border Security Force (BSF) is well-equipped to tackle new threats like drones with ease, a former BSF ADG said it gives the organization its “primary mandate” of border security. ” will help to fulfill it. will remove it.
According to a new gazette notification dated October 11, BSF officers can now conduct searches, seizures, arrests like their police counterparts at depths of 50 km in the border states of Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. Earlier the extent of jurisdiction of these states was 15 km. While Assam has welcomed the Centre’s move, Punjab and West Bengal have condemned the move, calling it an attack on the “federal structure”.
Interestingly, even with a police background, former Punjab DGP Shashi Kant told News18 that the BSF should have the power to seize drones coming into Indian territory.
“We (Punjab Police) have worked in intelligence agencies and other central government forces. The drones that are coming right now have a limited range. They are carrying arms and ammunition and have been dropped inside. So, generally, they can travel up to a maximum of 40 to 50 km, not more than that. For that, the BSF should have the power to seize them,” said Shashi Kant.
“However, he also said that political parties have a habit of playing politics on such matters as elections are near,” the former DGP said. “BSF was always there. On some occasions, it was also for internal security duties; not me. Looks like there would be a problem. It has become a political issue due to misunderstanding.”
Shashi Kant also said that the problem is that elections will be held in Punjab in a few months. Therefore, everyone wanted to derive “political advantage” from the situation, he said.
Former BSF ADG SK Sood said that keeping in view the population and police force of the area, powers have been given to BSF. He said the move would deter the force from performing its primary duty of guarding the border.
“The BSF in Rajasthan and Gujarat had a range of 80 km from the border decades ago because there were hardly any police, and the population was small. But this was not an issue in Punjab, so the BSF had 15 km. I think this move will deter the force, which is already facing shortage of staff, from performing its duty. Giving authority to BSF is fine, but border security is our primary command and we should stick to that.
On the issue of drones, Sood said that since these threats have come from across the border, the primary task of the BSF should be to strengthen the border rather than having powers like search, seizure and arrest.