Sameer Wankhede needs no introduction. Nemesis of drug traffickers and feared by Bollywood, the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer of 2008 batch has always been in the news, right from his first posting at the Air Intelligence Unit, Mumbai Airport Customs, to the National Intelligence Agency and Narcotics Control Bureau. During his 15-year career he has been credited with seizure of 17,000 kilos of narcotics and 165 kilos of gold. He also booked controversial Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik and infamously arrestedsuperstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan.
In a freewheeling chat with FPJ, Wankhede opens up about his work and personal life. He talks about his parents and attending RSS shakhas in his childhood. He laughs at media speculation that he wants to join the BJP.
“My recent visit to Nagpur and RSS headquarters was to pay homage to RSS founders Dr KB Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar. I have lots of childhood memories associated with the RSS and don’t need permission to visit. I have not gone to some terror camp in Pakistan,” Wankhede says.
'Mother encouraged me to attend RSS shakhas'
Wakhede is vocal about the role played by the RSS in moulding and instilling the spirit of nationalism in him.
“My mother encouraged me to attend RSS shakhas for discipline and physical fitness. I grew up with stories of Shivaji Maharaj, Maharana Pratap and Rani Laxmibai,” he recalls. “My father Dyandev Kachurji Wankhede is Hindu and my late mother Zaheeda was Muslim from Rajput royalty in Haryana. I have respect for both faiths and belong to a composite, multi-religious and secular family in true Indian tradition.”
The IRS officer, who is now posted to the office of Director General Taxpayers Services, Chennai, denies reports that he wants to join the BJP. “I believe in the concept of Rashtra Sarvopari. Nation First. I can serve my country as a citizen and a civil servant. Not necessary to join any political party,” he says.
'Chose civil service over law to serve the nation'
Wankhede says money does not motivate him. “I have a law degree and could have a flourishing practice but chose civil service to serve the nation.”
Speaking about his idols, Chhatrapati Shivaji and Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, whose teachings had a major influence on him, Wankhede says he believes in the rule of law.
The Cordelia cruise drug case, which led to Aryan’s arrest – he was later cleared – earned Wankhede the wrath of the political establishment, with the then MVA minister Nawab Malik accusing him of corruption.
“I have nothing personal against anyone. Action taken against the accused were as per law. Some cases got highlighted and made headlines because of celebrity involvement, but Bollywood was not the target. My action was against drug trafficking and rampant drug abuse in high society,” Wankhede claims.
He is all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to make the nation strong and empower the youth and marginalised sections.
“[The army’s] Agniveer scheme fantastic. It will help youngsters get trained, learn life skills and serve the nation to become responsible citizens,” he says.
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