- Reasons for the surprise decision, or if it has been accepted, unclear till late on Tuesday; ‘Will attend office till government responds’ says Khandey
Srinagar: Just three months before his retirement, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary (CS) Mohammad Iqbal Khandey on Monday sought ‘voluntary retirement’, allegedly after some differences with some cabinet ministers.
Though the precise reason for the sudden, and surprising, decision could not be confirmed, Khandey told Kashmir Reader that “It was not a resignation” but that he had “sought voluntary retirement on Monday”. Asked about the reason, he replied, “I will not go into the ‘why’ of it.” Khandey also said that he went to office both on Monday and Tuesday. When asked why, he said that he “was waiting for the government to respond and would continue attending office till a response from the state government.”
While a response could not be had from the government spokesperson, Naeem Akhtar, sources in the civil secretariat told Kashmir Reader that ‘many versions’ about the reason behind the decision were doing the rounds.
“One version is that he (Khandey) was opposed to some transfers made on August 21, during a cabinet meeting. Another version is that the CS was given a sealed packet a day before the August 21 meeting and was told only to open it in the meeting. This was something uncommon,” sources said. While the CS did not attend that meeting, sourced added that efforts were on to persuade him to reconsider his decision.
Sources also said the CS had differences with the present dispensation ever since the government was formed in March 2015. The differences, apparently, came to fore after he missed the August 21 cabinet meeting, sources said, adding that another rumour going around was that the CS wanted the meeting to be deferred.
Khandey, an IAS officer of the 1978 batch, was inducted as CS on February 18, 2013, by the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government. Late till Tuesday evening, it could not be confirmed whether Khandey’s ‘voluntary retirement’ had been accepted, but, according to seniority, were Khandey to leave, he would be replaced by BR Sharma, currently Principal Secretary, Planning and Development department, according to the GAD website.
Khandey’s rise to the highest bureaucratic position in the state has been a tale of ups and downs. First, he had to battle cancer, then came his alleged involvement in the infamous sex scandal in 2006, and then he faced a personal loss when his son, Sajad Iqbal, died in an accident in 2011.
Khanday, who is the third officer from Kashmir to get the coveted berth and also the first direct Kashmiri IAS recruit to make it to the CS post, has served in almost all major administrative positions in the state government. He was to retire on November 30, 2015. Around 11 other IAS officers are also nearing retirement in the coming months.