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BSF team comes in 15 km to seize cattle:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Important Security organizations.

 

Context:

Months after the Union government enhanced the operational limits of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, the border guarding force carried out its first operation under the increased powers to catch cattle being smuggled illegally out of Assam.

 

What happened?

  • The operation initiated from the Bangladesh border on March 21 in Assam’s Silchar district entailed the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to seize a truck carrying nine buffaloes, more than 15 km from their outpost at Balichera.
  • BSF said the increased territorial jurisdiction helped them plan operations better and also curtailed the ability of criminal elements to organise closer to the border areas.

 

About BSF:

  • The BSF was raised in 1965, after the India-Pakistan war.
  • It is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces of the Union of India under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

 

Current Affairs

 

Jurisdiction:

  • Earlier, the BSF’s limit was fixed up to 80 km from the International Boundary in Gujarat and 15 km in Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
  • On October 11 last, the MHA, through a notification in the Gazette of India, enhanced the “arrest, search and seize” powers of the BSF up to 50 km from the International Boundary in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
  • In Gujarat, the limit was reduced from the existing 80 km to 50 km and in Rajasthan, the 50–km limit has remained unchanged.
  • These powers pertain to specific crimes such as seizure of narcotics, cattle smuggling, prevention of trans–border crimes, illegal entry of foreigners among others.
  • All cases and suspects are to be handed over to local police within 24 hours.

 

Criticisms:

  • Law & Order is a state subject and powers of search, seizure and arrest typically lies with state police officials.
  • Hence, the affected states have questioned the step as an encroachment upon their powers and against the federal structure.
  • It is being termed as an attempt to “interfere through Central agencies”.

 

How does the centre defend its move on enhanced powers?

The enhanced powers of the BSF have been opposed by the State governments of Punjab and West Bengal.

  • However, the Centre said that this in no way impinges on the rights of the local police as all suspects are handed over to them within 24 hours.

 

Need for and Significance:

This step is meant to improve operational efficiency and crack down on smuggling rackets.

  • Punjab has the problem of drugs and arms smuggling.
  • Similarly, Assam and West Bengal face the issue of cattle and fake currency smuggling.
  • These borders are also prone to illegal migration.
  • BSF regularly gets inputs about illegal activity deep in the hinterland but their hands were tied beyond 15 km.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that Section 139 of the Border Security Force Act, 1968, empowers the Centre to notify the area and extent of the border force’s operational mandate?

  • Every order (notification) made under Section 139 of this act must be subsequently laid before each house of Parliament.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About BSF.
  2. Jurisdiction.
  3. Powers.
  4. Functions.
  5. The Border Security Force Act, 1968.

Mains Link:

Discuss the concerns associated with the enhanced powers of BSF.

Sources: the Hindu.