Interview: Illegal intrusions in state not acceptable, says Anil Vij
Firebrand Haryana home minister Anil Vij whose frequent run-ins with chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar often make headlines, on Friday said there are occasions when they have differences of opinion, but it is the view of the chief minister which would always prevail. Vij on Friday spoke to Executive Editor Ramesh Vinayak and Assistant Editor Hitender Rao on a range of issues including his relationship with deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala, the need for an anti-conversion law, sloppy police investigations, transfer of investigations from one district to another and farmers’ agitation. Excerpts:
You are among the handful of politicians who have independently held the home portfolio in Haryana? How challenging has been this assignment?
The home department has generally remained with the chief minister. Officials initially found it difficult to report to a home minister instead of the chief minister. There are many challenges, such as controlling organised crime, checking the proliferation of narcotics, improving the working condition of cops.
Which one needs top priority?
People should get quick relief. What I have found is that pendency has increased in many districts as the police failed to work out cases of crime. If this happens, public lose confidence in the system. The day people stop queuing up outside my house with complaints, I will acknowledge that police is performing. District police chiefs need to move out of offices and visit at least one police station a week.
But why is the crime investigation rate unsatisfactory?
Sloppiness and lack of follow-up are two major reasons. Cops should be held accountable for cases which are pending for years. People suffer due to slackness. The image of the police also needs a makeover. It needs to be people-friendly and improve public confidence.
How do you view the increase in the incidence of crime against women in the last few years? This can be due to lack of a deterrent effect and also due to the patriarchal mindset in the state.
You keep on having run-ins with the chief minister. And these things become public. Does the party high command approve such episodes in public?
We do have difference of opinion at times on some issues. It happens at times. I am entitled to my views and always like to articulate my views. I have a good relationship with the chief minister. We are on good talking terms.
But you often end up being overruled by the CM. Do you seek the intervention of party high command?
The view of the chief minister would always prevail. I do apprise the party high command of my viewpoint or difference of opinion.
Why there is a need to have an anti-conversion law in Haryana? Does it not infringe upon liberty and privacy of individuals?
I know about cases where religious conversions were either attempted or took place forcibly, fraudulently or using allurement. We strongly feel there is a need for such a law. Nikita Tomar case is a case in point. The proposed law has a provision for sanctioning of consensual inter-faith marriages.
What effect will the 75% private sector job quota have on the industry in the state? The RSS is opposed to this idea.
Being a part of the cabinet, I would not like to comment on this. I was a part of the decision to roll out this law. The RSS is an independent body and entitled to its views. It’s not necessary for the Sangh to approve or support our actions.
Why were you seeking the ouster of the incumbent DGP? Are there any differences?
There are no differences. The DGP was appointed for two years. Once the term gets completed it was my duty to start the process for appointment of the new DGP. I only did that.
But he was already granted an extension of tenure much before his two-year term ended?
That extension was given by the state government till a new arrangement is made. A proposal containing names of officers eligible for appointment as the DGP has been sent to the chief minister.
But the CM is not in favour of replacing the DGP?
Well, he is the chief minister,and he may have a view on this. I would not like to comment on whether the DGP should be given extension or not.
It is often alleged that a group of IPS officers influence your decision making?
No one can influence me. I make my own decisions.
What’s your stand regarding the Rohingya Muslim migrants in Haryana? You recently said India is not a dharamshala.
Our information is that there are about 1,500 Rohingya Muslim migrants putting up in Nuh. Some Delhi-based NGOs are supporting them financially and help them inhabit. These NGOs get them asylee certification from the UN. So, there is a bigger gameplan at work, and we are in the process of identifying them and check their plans.
Does this not smack of BJP’s Hindutva, anti-minority agenda?
It’s not. Rather it is a nationalistic agenda. The district SP has been asked to submit a report to me after studying each case of Rohingya Muslim migrant.
How well has the law on cow slaughter worked for the state government?
There has been a drastic reduction in cases of cow slaughter. The law has proved to be effective.
How’s your relationship with the deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala. It is said that you are out to fix him — be it the liquor smuggling during lockdown or the hooch deaths.
I have a very good equation with Dushyant and his father Ajay Singh. It’s not right to say that I have gone after him. If hooch deaths have taken place, they need to be investigated. Whatever comes out in an investigation has to be dealt with. I have nothing against anyone. The SIT probing the liquor smuggling had blamed both the police department as well as the excise.
How do you view the threat to ruling coalition MLAs by protesting farmers? Even INLD leader Abhay Chautala made a provocative statement recently.
Everyone has a right to protest but not to infringe upon the liberty of others. Others are also entitled to their viewpoint. It’s an agitation, not a brawl. Abhay Singh’s remarks are unfortunate. We have arrested a farmer leader who made a similar statement.
With farmers laying siege to the national capital, do you foresee a potential law and order fallout?
It should not happen. We have been telling farmer leaders also that it should remain an agitation and not a law and order problem.
You have been ordering transfer of criminal investigations from one district to another. Is there a law to back your actions?
Often the complainant is not satisfied with the investigations in a case. Thus, we get the investigation transferred. There is no legal hitch in doing this.
The high court recently decried the move of state governments in ordering parallel investigations by setting up SITs and the state government does this frequently. How would you justify this?
That’s not a parallel investigation. The case actually gets transferred to the special investigation team (SIT). For instance, the hooch tragedy was investigated by the police initially. But once the SIT was formed, all the cases were transferred to the SIT.
What role has the police played in the pandemic?
The police have the power to challan people who do not wear a mask. As per the latest data, the police have earned a revenue of about ₹50 crore by challaning mask violators.