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“Restoring Peace And Order In Kashmir Is Our Priority”

In recent times, he is known as the original whistleblower in the coal scam during UPA II, which caused the Congress-led UPA a huge credibility loss

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

1469182706_E1NRIm_Hansraj-Ahir_RS.jpg

Hansraj Gangaram Ahir is a mass leader from Maharashtra. In recent times, he is known as the original whistleblower in the coal scam during UPA II, which caused the Congress-led UPA a huge credibility loss. Now as minister of state for home, Ahir hopes to make internal security his main mantra. Edited excerpts from an interview with him:

How has your journey been from chemicals and fertilizers to home?
I wish to thank the PM for posing faith in me for the home portfolio. Home is a bigger ministry, more sensitive, bringing along with it many challenges. Work was progressing steadily in the chemicals and fertilizers ministry; I hope to do well in the new ministry as well.

What did the PM and the party president tell you when you were shifted to home?
After my new responsibility, I have not met them. But the fact that I was assigned a portfolio means that I am expected to perform well.

What will be your priorities in home?

The primary responsibility is that citizens live in peace, and sleep peacefully. The responsibilities keep on increasing, including internal security, border security, coastal areas, etc.

The Kashmir valley is burning with massive unrest among the youth. Where are we headed?
Union home minister Rajnath Singh is giving his full attention to the issue, confabulating with his cabinet colleagues as also officials and the state government. He also reached out to the opposition parties, and all parties are together on this issue of national importance. Right from the PM, everyone is working on this, on a priority basis, and bringing peace back to the valley is our only objective.

We are also keeping the morale of our security and paramilitary forces high so no terrorist carrying out anti-India activities is spared.

Another big issue facing the ministry is that of Zakir Naik — whether he was fraudulently converting people, or there is a terror angle. How seriously are you pursuing the matter?
The union home minister has already ordered a probe. Eight to nine different agencies are carrying out the investigation. What’s noteworthy is that in spite of all the revelations in the case, the home minister has not ordered his arrest. If in the probe that the ministry has ordered, it’s found out that he was carrying out anti-India activities, he would not be pardoned.

Gadchiroli in Maharashtra and different pockets elsewhere stand witness to the burning issue of Naxalism in the country. What is your long term plan to tackle the menace?
Yes ,there cannot be shortcuts to tackle this; a long-term strategy is needed to tackle the Naxal menace in the country. It’s been 30 years since the inception of the problem. Of course there’s been improvement in the situation. We are committed to its eradication.

If the misguided youth see reason and join the mainstream then nothing like it. Else, the police forces, paramilitary forces are there on the job. Be it Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand, we have been telling and we will tell the people that the development of the regions gets affected due to the Naxal menace. As compared with other districts, the development of the Naxal-affected districts lags behind. Of course, the Naxalites are steadily losing public support and sympathy.

In this reshuffle, aam aadmi ministers have got prominent portfolios. Do you agree with this assessment?
It’s been my observation and experience that the PM weighs all the pros and cons before arriving at a decision. In this reshuffle, all interests have been taken care of. All states have got justice. I had been working for some time in another ministry, but a number of new faces have been inducted, and now is the time for them to perform.

You were the original whistleblower in the coal scam. How did the government utilise your services thereafter?
Then we were in the opposition. We came across this issue and as a responsible nationalist opposition party, we raised the issue with full force, putting the then Congress government on the backfoot. The CAG report seemed to second our charges and then the opposition campaign became nothing less than a movement. The Congress was hit as a result, and once it fumbled, it was unable to regain composure thereafter. This also affected the election verdict.

What is heartening, however, is that there was a recovery in the coal scam. Ninety nine per cent property was recovered; coal block allocations were cancelled. The Supreme Court gave good rulings.

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