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Can’t rule out more surgical strikes: Rajth

New Delhi, Feb 3: Home Minister Rajth Singh said India may go for more cross-border surgical strikes, if the need arises, to safeguard its territories.

On September 29 last year, Indian Army commandos carried out cross-border raids deep inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir to destroy the militant launch pads, some 10 days after militants attacked an army base in Uri on September 18.

In an interview with CNN News18, to be aired on Friday, Singh said: “Pakistan is our neighbour. If it changes for good, we may not need such a step again. But if terror organisations or others target India, we can’t guarantee that surgical strike will not be repeated.”

The Home Minister also said the recent house arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed was an “eyewash”, and if Islamabad is really serious about tackling terror, it should pursue legal options, chargesheet Saeed and put him behind bars.

Rajth Singh said bbing fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is said to be hiding in Pakistan, was just a matter of time.

“I am confident that we will succeed in getting him back. It is just a matter of time,” the Home Minister said.

While Singh took a hard line towards Pakistan, he was more measured when it came to Chi.

He refused to criticise it for repeatedly blocking the desigtion of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the United tions.

“Maybe, Chi did not support us because of their own interl compulsions. But I am hopeful they will support us in future,” he said.

Interestingly, the Home Minister also steered clear of any negative comment over US President Dold Trumps’ decision to put a blanket ban on the entry into US of travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries — a decision that has attracted widespread flak.

Singh only said President Trump must have taken such a decision after “assessing local terror situation”.

Talking about assembly elections in his home state Uttar Pradesh, Singh expressed hope that the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) would win over 250 of the 403 assembly seats at stake.

Singh, a former Uttar Chief Minister, ruled himself out of the race to become the state’s chief minister again.

“I am already the Home Minister, it would be an injustice if others are not given a chance,” he said, noting that going ahead with the poll campaign without declaring a chief ministerial candidate would not affect his party’s chances.

With regard to the candidature of his son Pankaj, Rajth Singh said his opinion was that a leader’s son should work for at least 10 years in the party before fighting elections.

He pointed out that when Atal Bihari Vajpayee had recommended Pankaj’s me to be a candidate in 2007, he had politely declined since Rajth Singh was the BJP president then. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita