In a fresh spat, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's alleged directive to the state police to ensure that the Border Security Force does not cross its jurisdiction of 15 km from the international border is 'potentially alarming' for national security.
In a letter to the chief minister, Dhankhar urged Banerjee to take appropriate steps urgently and address the issue in public and national interest.
"Deeply concerned at your directives concerning BSF including 'BSF is allowed for 15 km that too with the permission of state police' to state apparatus during the course of the official administrative meeting at Ganga Rampur on December 7. These are not in sync with law or the recent Union home ministry notification increasing jurisdiction of the BSF in the state from 15 km to 50 km. Your stance has sent disturbing signals and is potentially alarming for federal polity and national security," Dhankhar said in the letter which he shared on Twitter.
At an administrative review meeting on December 7 in Uttar Dinajpur district, Banerjee directed the police administration not to allow the BSF to breach its jurisdiction limits and get involved in the law and order of the state. She gave the same order on Thursday at another such meeting in Nadia district.
"In the state having international border with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, BSF and Central Armed Police Force play significantly well defined crucial role from the perspective of national security and containing criminal illegal activities, Dhankhar said in the letter.
While the BSF is deployed along the Indo-Bangladesh border, Sashastra Seema Bal personnel guard the borders with Nepal and Bhutan.
Dhankhar said there is a need to generate bonhomie and not confrontation between these agencies and the state apparatus.
"This imperatively calls for, in public and national interest, that your directives, instructions as also stance regarding functioning of BSF in the state be revisited so as to generate an environ of harmony and cooperation," the letter read.
The Centre recently amended the BSF Act to authorise the force to undertake search, seizure and arrest within a larger 50 km stretch, instead of 15 km, from the international border in Punjab, West Bengal and Assam.
Banerjee has criticised the decision, alleging that it is an attempt to interfere with the federal structure of the country. She has also claimed that the move "meant to torture the people in those areas".
She had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month in New Delhi and demanded a rollback of the decision.
At the administrative meeting held in Krishnagar on Thursday, Banerjee said, "I will ask the ICs (inspectors-in-charge) to increase their mobility and step up 'naka checking'. You have borders with Bangladesh starting from Karimpur. You also have to keep an eye on that...."
"You also have to see that the BSF does not get into villages without your permission and get involved with anything. The BSF will do their work and you will do yours. Always remember that law and order is your subject," Banerjee said.
Banerjee asked the police administration to check the BSF from breaching its jurisdiction limits in various districts during the past two days.
The Trinamool Congress government headed by Banerjee had several run-ins with Dhankhar over a number of issues since he took over as the state governor in July 2019.