One way to marginalise Kashmiri presence in the top bureaucracy is to limit the number of officers in the services. Another is to install the remaining officers in positions where their presence is not impactful. The secretariat at present is witness to both.
A senior Kashmiri bureaucrat, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said most of the administrative secretaries from the Valley hold inconsequential departments, some of which have less than 500 employees.
No Kashmiri officer heads important departments like finance, planning, home, roads and buildings, public health engineering, rural development, urban development, tourism, industries and commerce, consumer affairs & public distribution, revenue, forest, agriculture, transport and higher education.
Bureaucrats from Kashmir are at the helm in departments like labour and employment, culture, information, horticulture and tribal affairs, the only exceptions being Khursheed Ahmad Shah and Farooq Shah, who are respectively administrative heads of the general administration department (GAD) and school education.
However, while GAD is considered as nerve centre of the administration, its administrative head is virtually a staff officer to the chief secretary, who is rarely from Kashmir.Unlike other administrative heads, GAD’s administrative secretary has not much of an independent role.
“In a nutshell, it is not a prestigious position,” an official said.
Hilal Parrey, the second senior most Kashmiri officer, has been sitting idle for more than a month now. He is currently an officer on special duty in the GAD.
Kifayat Rizvi, who is at the fag end of his career, is administrative secretary labour and employment, a position considered as “punishment” in bureaucratic circles.
Also, no officer from Kashmir serves as an administrative secretary in any department headed by BJP ministers such as power, housing and urban development, industries and commerce and transport, health and medical education, PHE, animal husbandry, forest, cooperatives and Ladakh affairs.
The last Kashmiri officer to serve as administrative secretary in BJP quota ministries was Muhammad Afzal Bhat who attained superannuation in March this year. Bhat served as administrative secretary in the Forest department.A few PDP ministers refused to speak on the matter.Deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta said that it is immaterial for the government whether the officers were from Jammu, Ladakh or Kashmir.
This newspaper reported on Wednesday that strength of Kashmiri officers in the J&K cadre has gone down to mere 14. Of them, three are retiring in next 12 months.