The latest notification concerning the BSF’s jurisdiction is a step in the right direction. It is a timely and calculated measure to tackle new risks facing national security
The problem is not the persistent false narrative of the Opposition; it is the Left-wing media’s tradition of overlooking critical aspects.
In a first-of-its-kind security threat to the country, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were dropped by using drones at an Indian Air Force base in Jammu. Forget terrorists infiltrating in the country to carry out sophisticated attacks on India; this is the age of next-level warfare where drones with kilos of payload can be used to launch a deadly attack.
In the enquiry that followed, it was found that the drones conveniently returned to their original launching site, indeed in Pakistan, after dropping four kilograms of payloads. The IAF base is 14 km from the Indo-Pak border, and this was purportedly the first attack launched against India using drones. This June 2021 incident has been brushed under the carpet by opposition leaders who are decrying ‘threat to federalism’ in India in the wake of the expansion of the Border Security Force’s (BSF) area of operations.
If this was too old to recall, the Opposition must recall a September incident where the BSF recovered at least 6 kg heroin, packed sophistically in six packets and delivered from Pakistan to the bordering Punjab state by drone. Drones have become a big threat to national security over the past few years. These are too small to detect, especially during the nighttime, and they can travel long distances from their launch site.
This was the main reason why the Centre chose to make changes in the jurisdiction of the BSF. Now, this border guarding force can exercise jurisdiction up to 50 km from the international border in the states of Punjab, West Bengal and Assam. In the first, the menace of drug trafficking and substance abuse is alarming, and in the latter two, illegal migrants crossing the international border to enter India is the biggest threat facing these two states’ socio-economic fabric.
What the Opposition misses in its rant against the Centre is the fact that the previous July 2014 notification had allowed jurisdiction of the BSF within a belt of 80 km in the state of Gujarat. The very state has been one of the biggest bastions of the ruling party at the Centre for decades. The latest gazette notification is a sort of acknowledgement of new challenges to national security, together with parity among states. Now, Gujarat also has the same area under the BSF as other states, though some northeastern states continue to fall entirely under the BSF control.
The TMC-led West Bengal State Government minister has reminded the Centre that ‘law and order is a state subject’. This, if true, should ideally make all the Central Armed Police Forces, including the ITBP and SSB, unconstitutional. And for that matter, even the creation of the BSF in 1965 by the then Congress party government should be called into question. When Pakistan attacked Sardar Post and multiple other facilities during the Indo-Pak War of 1965, the Central Government decided to have a specialised agency to guard our borders with Pakistan. By 1971, the BSF had become a formidable force and made it possible for India to help Bangladesh win liberation.
Moreover, the latest notification expanding the BSF’s jurisdiction is a part of a coordinated design to deal with emerging threats. In July, the BSF launched an initiative to rope in the expertise of Indian companies to address the pressing issue of cross-border drone attacks. The BSF Hi-tech Undertaking for Maximizing Innovation (BHUMI) mission will seek cooperation from local partners for drone detection. The mission will prioritise the fight against narco-terrorism and the increasing threat of attacks on security installations.
What the Opposition misses in its rant against the Centre is the fact that the previous July 2014 notification had allowed jurisdiction of the BSF within a belt of 80 km in the state of Gujarat. The latest gazette notification is a sort of acknowledgement of new challenges to national security, together with parity among states.
It is unfortunate that the Opposition continuously sidelines vital elements. Earlier this month, a drone was used to send arms from the Pakistan side into Jammu. This drone carried an AK rifle and a night vision device. If 1965 was the year that called for the creation of a centrally-controlled armed force for border areas, the 2020s is the time to re-think the BSF’s design to fight the next-level warfare.
Lastly, the opposition-ruled states have continually decried the ‘threat to federalism’ ever since the ruling BJP assumed power at the Centre. They seem to have totally forgotten the misuse of Article 365 of the Indian constitution by the Congress-led central governments on more than 90 occasions to topple state governments. The creation of the Central Armed Police Forces was pioneered under Congress.
Another key concern is the synchronised attack on the Centre by opposition-ruled state governments that smacks of vested interests and malafide intent. Who will gain if the enemy nations succeed in smuggling arms and drugs to these bordering states? Who will gain if the unchecked illegal crossing of borders goes on in the states of West Bengal and Assam? These are some crucial questions that call for answers from the respective state governments.
The latest notification concerning the BSF’s jurisdiction is a step in the right direction. It is a timely and calculated measure to tackle new risks facing national security. The Left-wing media and its sponsors in the Opposition are all out to misguide the country on a critical subject matter.
(The article “BSF’s jurisdiction changes is a judicious step in the right direction” published in ‘Organiser’)