Patna: A proposed bill — seeking to convert Bihar Military Police (BMP) into a special armed force with power to arrest without warrants — triggered ruckus in the state assembly Friday, with the opposition tearing copies of the bill.
The Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, proposes to give powers to the special force to conduct raids and arrest individuals without obtaining any warrant.
Its personnel will also be deployed at airport, metro rail and industrial units, the way Central Industrial Security Force personnel are deployed.
The opposition created uproar in the assembly after they were given copies of the bill. Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha adjourned the assembly till Tuesday.
In the bill document, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who also holds the home portfolio, wrote, “Bihar shares borders with three states and Nepal. In order to strengthen internal security, a special trained force is needed.”
He claimed adequate steps have been taken to ensure the special police force does not misuse its powers.
The opposition, however, demanded the withdrawal of the proposed bill, which is scheduled to be taken up for discussion next Tuesday.
The RJD said the “bill is a route to enforce Police Raj”.
“As it is, police are notorious for overlooking rules in arrests and raids. This bill, if passed, will legalise such arrests and raids, and there will be violation of human rights more brazenly. The bill seeks to arrest and conduct raids in anticipation of a wrong, which is yet to happen. How can we be sure it will not be misused against political opponents or even sections agitating for their demands?” senior RJD MLA Awadh Bihari Choudhary told ThePrint.
Meanwhile, police officers said the chief minister wants to “create his own NIA (National Investigation Agency)”. Retired police officers said the propose bill might trigger conflict between state and central agencies.
‘May lead to a conflict between central and state agencies’
A police officer, who didn’t want to be named, told ThePrint, “He (Nitish Kumar) talks about the Nepal border, but there is already a central force, SSB, which guards the Nepal borders and arrests suspicious persons and conducts raids. That may lead to a conflict between central and state agencies.”
He said provisions of arrests and raids without a warrant prevails in Chhattisgarh, “but that again is used against Naxals. In Bihar, Naxalism has been on the wane after 2000”. The officer added the CM wants to “create his own NIA”.
Former DGP of Bihar Abhyanand told ThePrint “as it is, the police make preventive arrests without warrants”.
“It is only when they make punitive arrests, they have to take warrants. Similar is the case in raids. In Bihar, warrants are seldom sought. It is sought only when the person who they have to arrest is high-profile. In other cases, they justify the arrest or raid in the police diary,” he said.
“I am surprised that the government has given them the power to make arrests and conduct raids, but they have not been given the powers to investigate the case. The arrested person will have to be handed over to the nearest police station,” he added.
The former DGP recalled that over a decade ago when the Intelligence Bureau had sought to create a similar cell, several states, including Bihar, had opposed it.
‘May have a greater impact in Seemanchal’
There are 18 battalions of BMP located in as many as districts of Bihar. They provide armed assistance to the Bihar Police.
A retired IPS officer told ThePrint if the special police force is bestowed with the power to make arrests and conduct raids without warrants, it may cause conflict among police forces.
The proposed bill talks about anti-national activities and the need to step up vigil on them.
“It may have a greater impact in Seemanchal and other adjoining areas,” he added.
(Edited by Debalina Dey)