New Delhi: The Border Security Force (BSF) has often faced occupational limitations in states such as West Bengal as their jurisdiction of operation was merely 15 km from the international border.
Now, things have been changed and a fresh Gazette Notification from the Union Home Ministry says that the jurisdiction of BSF activities from the international border would henceforth be 50 km instead of only 15 km in West Bengal, Assam and Punjab.
The Home Ministry has also reduced BSF's area of operation in Gujarat to 50 km making it uniform. Earlier, in Gujarat, the jurisdiction was 80 km but the BSF officials have reportedly told the centre that it could be reduced as most areas stretch along Rann of Kutch and are not inhabited by people.
In states such as Punjab while there have been reports of increased drug related activities, in BJP-ruled Assam and Trinamool Congress-ruled West Bengal, there have been rise in smuggling of fake currencies, cattle and also illegal migration of people.
Issued under the exercise of powers under the Border Security Force Act, 1968, the notification says: “The whole of the area comprised in the States of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya and Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and so much of the area comprised within a belt of 50 kilometers in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal and Assam, running along the borders of India.”
The previous notification too was issued by the Modi government in July 2014.
Sources said such changes are generally made following inputs and on suggestions from the BSF.
The borders along Assam and West Bengal are prone to illegal migration besides other problems. "We have been getting inputs about illegal activity deep in the hinterland but our hands were tied beyond 15 km in some states," a source said.
.So, a suggestion was made to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Assam, Punjab and West Bengal have been troublesome borders because of rampant smuggling of drugs, cattle and arms and ammunition on the other hand, Punjab has high rate of drugs and arms smuggling.
Notably, former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh also had met Home Minister Amit Shah and NSA Ajit Doval separately. However, sources do not relate the new BSF notification to these meetings.
These are BSF-departmental level decisions. Moreover, Assam and West Bengal also have posed new challenges in the form of cattle and fake currency smuggling, sources said.
It may be also mentioned that the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, was piloted by the Assam government that seeks to prohibit inter-state transport of cattle to and from, as well as through Assam without valid documents, "primarily to stop smuggling of cattle outside the country".