Shah and his team of 16 working on Kashmir, NRC

New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a meeting with the Ministers of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy and Nityanand Rai, after taking charge of office, in New Delhi on June 1, 2019. Also seen Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Secretary (BM) B.R. Sharma and Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

New Delhi (IANS) Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Prime Minister's most trusted lieutenant in Modi 2.0, is learnt to be focusing on vital aspects of national security with 16 key bureaucrats to fix the structural crises -- the insurgency in Kashmir, the NRC, and the situation in Northeast and Maoist-affected areas.

With the policy of an iron fist for terrorism in the velvet glove of "vikas and vishwas" (development and trust), he is formulating measures to deal with these challenges with a core team that includes some new and some old faces.

At the helm in the crucial Ministry in North Block, Shah is reportedly relying on these key bureaucrats that include 16 senior male and two female officials drawn from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS).

Of these officials, two hold posts of Secretaries, three are Special Secretaries, three Additional Secretaries and eight are Joint Secretaries. 

The officials, sources said, have started streamlining their tasks under newly-appointed Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, a 1984 batch Assam-Meghalaya cadre IAS official, who was on July 24 appointed as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Home Ministry.

Bhalla will take over as the new Home Secretary, succeeding incumbent Rajiv Gauba who retires on August 31. He would assist Shah with his experiences during his two-year tenure till August 2021.

Shah's Private Secretary Saket Kumar is also among his top team members. A 2009-batch IAS from Bihar cadre, Kumar, as per current deputation, would be assisting the Home Minister till July 29, 2023.

Others key officials of the team include Secretary, Official Language, Shailesh, Secretary, Border Management, B.R. Sharma, Special Secretary, Internal Security, A.P. Maheshwari, Special Secretary and Financial Advisor Bhupendra Singh, Special Secretary, Centre-State, Satpal Chouhan, Additional Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir, Gyanesh Kumar, Additional Secretary, Union Territories, Govind Mohan and Additional Secretary, PM, Vivek Bhardwaj.

Joint Secretary, Left-Wing Extremism, Praveen Vashista, Joint Secretary, Northeast, Satyendra Garg, Joint Secretary, Foreigners, Anil Malik, Joint Secretary, Border Management-I, A.V. Dharma Reddy, Joint Secretary, Police-I and Police-II, Amitabha Kharkwal and Joint Secretary, Internal Security-I, S.C.L. Das are among others in the team.

The two women officials include Joint Secretary, Women Safety (with additional charge of Internal Security-II), Punya Salila Srivastava and Joint Secretary, Border Management-II, Nidhi Khare.

Maheshwari, a 1984 batch IPS officer, appointed to the Ministry in February beginning to replace Rina Mitra, has been reportedly got Shah's approval to deal with internal security matters with a more muscular approach to maintain law and order. He will hold the post till his retirement on February 28, 2021.

Additional Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir, Gyanesh Kumar and Joint Secretary, Northeast, Garg will be assisting Shah in dealing issues of insurgency in the Valley and completion of the National Register of Citizen (NRC) in Assam, respectively.

Besides the Team 16, the Home Minister's juniors Nityanand Rai and G. Kishan Reddy, both holding charges of Minister of State for Home, would be playing crucial role in completing his five year target.

Reflecting his indisputable trust in Amit Shah, who continues to be BJP President, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted the first-time Union Minister into eight cabinet committees after forming the government for the second time.

Modi's most trusted lieutenant since the 1980s when both started their political careers in Gujarat, he made a grand entry in the Union Cabinet on May 31 replacing Rajnath Singh, who has moved to the Defence Ministry across the road in South Block.

Emerging from the backstage, from where he directed the BJP's spectacular ascent, he is in the forefront of Modi 2.0 government.

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