The West Bengal assembly on November 16 passed a resolution demanding withdrawal of a notification issued by the Union home ministry to extend the territorial jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) from 15 km to up to 50 km from the international border.
The home ministry had issued a notification on October 11, extending the jurisdiction of BSF from 15 km from the international border to 50 km in West Bengal, Punjab and Assam. The Punjab assembly had also passed a similar resolution on November 11.
The resolution moved in the Bengal assembly by minister for parliamentary affairs, Partha Chatterjee, under Rule 169 said that the extension of the territorial jurisdiction of BSF is an interference in the internal matters of the state, which will destroy the federal structure of the country.
The resolution was passed with 112 Trinamool Congress MLAs voting for it and 63 from the BJP voting against it.
Speaking on the occasion, Chatterjee said that the territorial jurisdiction of the BSF has been increased without any consultation with the state, adding that the move would curb power of the police.
Speaking to the media later, Chatterjee said: “If the notification is implemented, 11 districts or 37 per cent of the state’s territory will come under the control of the BSF, and in a way under the control of the Centre.”
Opposing the resolution, leader of opposition in the assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, called for increasing BSF’s jurisdiction to up to 80 km.
Adhikari alleged that Rohingyas have entered the state, where terrorists are mushrooming. He also sought to know the outcome of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s letter to the prime minister on the issue and what transpired in the meeting between Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla and state officials last week.
There were noisy scenes in the assembly as BJP members took exception to the remarks made by Trinamool’s Udayan Guha.
Guha, who represents the Dinhata assembly constituency in Cooch Behar district, alleged that BSF personnel were indulging in excesses on the border population, particularly women. However, there was a heated exchange of words between Guha and Mihir Goswami, forcing speaker Biman Banerjee to intervene.
Not only the Trinamool Congress, but all the non-BJP parties have opposed the move to increase BSF’s jurisdiction. On November 15, Left Front chairperson Biman Bose had in a letter to the chief minister described the notification as something against the federal structure of the country, urging her to oppose it.
State Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has also opposed the notification.