The Border Security Force (BSF) has issued a rebuttal regarding accusations of high-handedness by the force made by West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee in north Bengal on Monday.Mamata kick started her campaign for the Panchayat elections in the state from the district of Cooch Behar on Monday.
While addressing a gathering at the border district, she not only accused the BSF of ‘gunning down’ villagers but also warned that personnel of the border guarding force would try to intimidate the border population to try and keep them from voting for her party in the rural polls.
“The allegations made by the CM of West Bengal at Cooch Behar are totally baseless and far from the truth. The BSF is a professional force that has been entrusted with the responsibility of securing the international border across the country.
“The Force has never intimidated the border population or any voter for any reason. The BSF is deployed along the Indo-Bangladesh Border to provide a sense of security to Indian citizens living along the international border and to prevent trans-border crimes, unauthorised entry into or exit from Indian territory.
“The BSF is also responsible for preventing smuggling and other illegal activities along the international border,” the rebuttal issued by the Guwahati Frontier of the BSF states.The Indo-Bangladesh border along Cooch Behar falls under the jurisdiction of the Guwahati Frontier of the federal force.
“No complaint of intimidation of any person living along the border has so far been received by the BSF or any sister agency. BSF is fully committed to the peaceful and unhindered electoral process along the border and other areas.
“BSF personnel are also deployed for election duty, which they perform under the supervision of the local administration. Hence, the BSF emphatically deny any such allegations made by the CM of West Bengal,” the rebuttal further states.
It is a known fact that a section of the border population in West Bengal is involved in trans-border crimes such as smuggling, human trafficking and drug running.There are frequent alterations between the BSF and such criminals leading to accusations of high-handedness by the border-guarding troops along the highly porous border.
At the same time, Opposition parties in the state - particularly the BJP - has made inroads into bordering areas, causing some discomfort for the ruling Trinamool Congress.No wonder, the BSF comes under fire whenever Mamata or other top leaders of her party, including national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee address political meetings in the border districts.
The decision by the Centre to extend the jurisdiction of the BSF from 15 km inland to 50 km has also not gone down well with Mamata who passed a resolution against this in the West Bengal Assembly.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and the BSF, however, maintain that this is essential as the trail to cross-border crime, sometimes related to national security, extends far beyond 15 km from the border.
Moreover, the extension of jurisdiction doesn't grant permission to the BSF to prosecute or arrest a person. The Force can simply carry out a probe and then hand over details to the local police for necessary legal action.