India

Will help curb drug menace, says Amritsar MP; farm union slams move

Amid row over BSF’s jurisdiction extension in the state, Amritsar Congress MP Gurjit Singh Aujla, whose constituency touches the border, welcomed Union government’s decision.

“I think it would help in curbing drug menace. But area is more than required. BSF jurisdiction should be limited to around 10 km. I am making this comment only from the perspective of drug smuggling,” said Aujla.

When asked if his comment reflects poorly on Punjab Police and Congress government in state, Aujla said, “It is definitely failure of Punjab Police in tackling drug menace because of which I have to say that this is a good decision to give BSF more powers. Punjab Police has failed. But it is not a reflection on Congress government as Punjab CM was changed due to these problems.”He added: “We have to be careful about challenges from across the border.”

Draconian order, says farmer union
Farmer leader Rattan Singh Ajnala, who is from the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, said: “Border Security Force has iron fencing with Pakistan. It is not able to stop the smuggling from such a strongly fenced border. It has area less than half kilometre from border under its watch. If it can’t keep check on such a small area then how can we expect BSF to look after 50 km.”

He added, “Border farmers who have land across the fence or inside fence are already facing harrassment from BSF. What will happen when BSF would have jurisdiction on a much bigger area. It is very clear that such a decision has nothing to do with keeping check on smuggling. It is a serious design to control the state. How common people would deal with two law enforcement agencies. On one side there is Punjab Police and on other there would be BSF. It would crush common people.”

Punjab Police officials surprised
Punjab Police officials were not ready to talk on the record, but they added they were taken by surprise. “There are already many problems between Punjab Police and BSF. It has happened many times that BSF officials are arrested for being part of smuggling nexus. There was need for confidence building and better coordination between BSF and Punjab Police. But what has happened is exactly opposite. More jurisdiction to BSF will be overlapping in functioning of both agencies. It will make both forces more reserved about sharing information. It will serve no good to state and Center,” said an official who did not wish to be named.

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