Punjab govt refuses to foot CRPF, BSF bills
The Punjab government refused to foot the bills of the CRPF and BSF forces that were deployed in Pathankot to counter the air base attack. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal refused to pay the bill forwarded by the Home Ministry stating that the forces were used to defend vital national infrastructure. He added that dealing with foreign terrorists was the Centre's duty towards states.
The Pathankot Air Force base was attacked by a group of six terrorists on 2 January 2016. The attack continued for three days resulting in the death of 7 Indian security personnel as well as of all six terrorists involved. Eleven companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and nine companies of Border Security Force (BSF) were deployed to protect the base.
Paramilitary forces including the BSF and CRPF come under the Home Ministry. Whenever they are deployed to states, the Centre foots the bill. However, the costs are adjusted in the following year's state budget.
The Home Ministry forwarded a bill of Rs.6.35 crore to the Punjab government as costs of deploying BSF and CRPF troops during the operation at the Pathankot Air Force base. The Centre sought payments for eleven companies of CRPF and nine companies of BSF at a cost of Rs.1,77,143 per day from 2-27 January. It also sought payments for transporting the troops.
Punjab already owes a Rs.1,25,000 crore debt to the Centre, a large proportion of which comes from payments to the army, which was deployed across the state during the 15 years of militancy that erupted after Operation Bluestar.
"If you call in the Army to handle a local issue (like the Jat reservation in Haryana) it is one thing. But if Pakistan attacks here and you ask us to pay for it, my entire budget goes awry" - Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sukhbir Singh Badal
The Congress dubbed as "travesty" the Centre's move to bill Punjab for deployment of paramilitary forces to counter the Pathankot terror strike. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it was unfortunate that the Punjab government was bearing the costs of containing international terrorism. Both the Congress as well the ruling NDA ally, Shiromani Akali Dal said the deployment was in "national interest", not internal conflict.