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Cattle Smuggling, Tech-savvy Foes Triggered Broadening of BSF Jurisdiction: Home Ministry

The home ministry said the increased area of authority would help in curbing the menace of cattle smuggling as smugglers often take refuge in the interior parts outside the jurisdiction of the BSF. (Representational image/@BSF_India/Twitter)

The home ministry said the increased area of authority would help in curbing the menace of cattle smuggling as smugglers often take refuge in the interior parts outside the jurisdiction of the BSF. (Representational image/@BSF_India/Twitter)

The union home ministry issued a notification on October 11, allowing BSF to operate within a larger 50-km stretch as opposed to 15 km earlier in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.

Cattle smuggling and use of technology by enemies are among major reasons that led to the expansion of the Border Security Force’s jurisdiction in some states, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has told Parliament. According to a reply given by minister of state (MoS) for home Nityanand Rai on the rationale for broadening the area of authority of the organisation from 15 km to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, “The extension in territorial jurisdiction of BSF in some states is aimed at empowering BSF to discharge its border guarding duties more effectively in the wake of use of technology like Dynamic Remotely Operated Navigation Equipment (Drones), Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs), etc, generally having long range, by anti-national forces for surveillance as well as for smuggling of arms, narcotics and fake Indian currency notes (FICN)."

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The ministry added that it would also help in curbing the menace of cattle smuggling as smugglers take refuge in the interior areas outside the jurisdiction of the BSF.

The about 2.65-lakh personnel paramilitary force guards over 6,300 of Indian fronts with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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The MHA has said that as required under Section 139(3) of the BSF Act, 1968, these notifications have been laid on the table of the Lok Sabha on November 30, 2021. They would be laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha on the day they are included in the list of business.

The union home ministry had issued a notification extending the BSF’s jurisdiction on October 11, amending a July 2014 enabling provision for the force’s personnel and officers while they operate in border areas.

In Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, the BSF can operate within a larger 50 km stretch as opposed to 15 km earlier. In Gujarat, which shares a border with Pakistan, the limit has been reduced from 80 km to 50 km, while in Rajasthan the limit has been kept unchanged at 50 km. Rajasthan and Punjab also share fronts with Pakistan while Assam has an international border with Bangladesh.

West Bengal and Punjab, ruled by BJP rivals TMC and Congress respectively, have opposed the step, terming it an infringement of federal rights of the states.

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BSF officials said the amendment will help them in effectively curbing trans-border crimes and the new amendment brings in “uniformity" for its operations in the border states of Punjab, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Assam where it can now operate within a 50 km area from the border.

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first published:December 07, 2021, 15:39 IST