| Former Bhagalpur divisional commissioner Minhaj Alam addresses a function inside Bhagalpur Central Jail in 2013. Picture by Amit Kumar |
The fight against poor power supply and high-handedness of private power companies lost a major crusader of sorts after Bhagalpur divisional commissioner Minhaj Alam’s transfer.
The Kerala-cadre officer, a native of Patna, had become very popular with the masses during his two-and-a-half-year stint here. “Today, we miss him badly. Other officials concerned have little interest in public grievances. But Alam always gave us a patient hearing and tried to solve our problems,” said Prakesh Chandra Gupta, a local social worker.
Faruque Ali, a senior teacher at Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University and a social activist, recalled how Alam was always inclined to solve people’s problems.
“Alam was like a guardian to not just me but to all honest officials here. He was very honest and dedicated to his work,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Kamlesh Prasad Singh, a member of the Bhagalpur bar association, recalled how Alam was once leaving the court of the divisional magistrate as it was time for his namaaz when the former entered court for an important hearing. “When I requested him to stay a while, he carefully heard my argument for over 15 minutes. Though faith was important to him, he was as particular about professional responsibilities too,” recalled Singh.
“For the first time in my service, I saw common people, even rickshaw-pullers, fearlessly come to Alam with their grievances and he tried to solve them,” said a peon at the divisional commissioner’s office.
Shabana Dawood, secretary, Fateh Help Society, an NGO for the cause of poor girls and women, recalled an incident. “We had decided to provide livelihood training to female inmates at Sahid Jubba Sahani Central Jail. But for that we would have required entry into the jail premises. We approached Alam. He was very interested and told us female inmates would benefit immensely as often after release from jail they end up as destitutes, unacceptable to family and society. He allowed us entry into the jail. The inmates’ handmade products are now in great demand,” she said.
Champanagar-based social worker Debashis Banerjee said traditional silk weavers are disappointed with Alam’s transfer. “When Alam joined here, they were busy agitating against the state electricity department’s step-motherly attitude. Alam ensured implementation of government’s new power rates for weavers here. He also motivated weavers to clear their dues,” he said.
Alam was in Bihar, on deputation from Kerala, since 2009 and touched lives in Hazipur and Madhepura as district magistrate. He was also additional secretary in the state higher education department and divisional commissioner of Bhagalpur for over two years, with additional charge of Munger for over six months.
He was sent to Bihar for three years but on Bihar government’s request the Centre extended his stint by two more years. It ended on July 4, 2014. Bihar had requested extension of his tenure by a year but Kerala government was not ready as it faces an acute shortage of IAS officers.