BSF may get power of search, seizure and arrest

NEW DELHI: Border Security Force (BSF), which is increasingly being deployed in the hinterland for counter-insurgency and anti-Naxal operations, may soon get additional powers of search, seizure and arrest as a parliamentary panel approved a proposed legislation to this effect, paving the way for the government to get it passed in Parliament during the winter session.

If it gets these additional powers, BSF – which is deployed along Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders — will be the third border guarding force with such a mandate.

Currently, powers of search, seizure and arrest are available to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), deployed along Indo-China border, and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) that is deployed along Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders.

Considering the increasing role of BSF in Naxal-infested areas, the government had in August introduced the Border Security Force (Amendment) Bill, 2011 that sought to widen the scope for deployment of the force in the hinterland for counter-insurgency and anti-Naxal operations, during election period or even in maintaining law and order situation “with additional power to search, seizure and arrest” which is otherwise not available to it.

At present, nearly 5,000 BSF personnel are deployed in anti-Naxal operations and they require state police personnel who have power of “search, seizure and arrest” to accompany them. The proposed legislation will provide them more flexibility and mobility in terms of operations.

“The proposed amendment, therefore, is in a way, an enabling provision for BSF which is already available to SSB and ITBP,” the Rajya Sabha secretariat said after getting the report of the parliamentary standing committee on home affairs over the bill. SSB and ITBP personnel are also deployed in Naxal-affected areas.

The panel — headed by BJP member M Venkaiah Naidu — presented its report to Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari on Thursday, saying the “committee adopted the bill without any changes and recommended for being passed”. The bill was sent to it after its introduction in Lok Sabha on August 19.

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