Khandey quits over differences with govt

SRINAGAR:  Chief secretary Muhammad Iqbal Khandey on Tuesday stepped down as the senior most bureaucrat of the state reportedly over differences with the ruling alliance.

59-year-old Khanday, who served as Principal Secretary to Mufti Sayeed during his term as Chief Minister in 2002, sent his papers to the state Government for acceptance.

“I have sought voluntary retirement. I have submitted my papers yesterday,” Khanday was quoted as saying here today. He, however, refused to divulge the reasons for his action.

Khanday – who in the normal course of events would attain superannuation in the month of November this year has sought premature retirement following differences with the PDP-BJP led coalition government.

Speculation about Khandey’s differences with the political dispensation had come to light immediately after PDP-BJP alliance formed the government in March. 

Khanday had opposed recent bureaucratic reshuffle carried out by the state government and as a protest kept himself away from the cabinet meeting held on August 21.

As part of his duty, the chief secretary has to attend the cabinet meetings but sources close to Khandey said he was on leave on August 21 because of the death of his brother’s grandson.

Sources also said Khandey had requested the cabinet meeting be postponed by a day, but his request was turned down which brought matters to a dead end. 

An IAS officer of the 1978 batch, Khandey was made the Chief Secretary on February 18, 2013 during the National Conference-Congress ruling alliance headed by the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Khandey was always considered close to Mufti’s and his daughter, Sehar Iqbal contested the Assembly election of 2008 on a PDP ticket from Kokernag, but lost to Congress candidate Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed.

The request of Khanday will be taken up by the state cabinet and forwarded to the Centre. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is out of state as of now.

Sources said there are efforts underway to request him to reconsider the decision. At least two cabinet ministers have had detailed close door meetings with the top bureaucrat. Outcome of the meetings was not immediately known.

BR Sharma, who is the second senior most IAS officer in the state, is likely to replace Khandey as the new chief secretary.

“Another sign that things in J&K aren’t going as smoothly as some people would like to have us believe.”   — Omar Abdullah

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