by Saima Bhat
SRINAGAR: After taking voluntary retirement from any government job, there is no provision of joining back. But when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir, which ceased to exist as a State, anything can happen.
Six years after taking his voluntary retirement to join unionist politics in Jammu and Kashmir and join the legacy of his uncle late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, out of nowhere the UT administration came up with an order on Monday posting Sajad Hussain Mufti, IFS to the UT of Ladakh.
The government order no 708-JK (GAD) of 2020, date 20.07.2020, by the order of Lieutenant Governor, duly signed by Charandeep Singh, the additional secretary to the government, reads, “In the interest of administration, Sajad Hussain Mufti, IFS (JK:2008), presently attached with chief conservator of forests, Jammu, is hereby transferred and his services placed at the disposal of Union Territory of Ladakh, with immediate effect, until further orders or till final allocation by the Central Government under section 88 (4) of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organization Act, 2019.”
It was in 2014, when Sajad joined his uncle’s party Peoples Democratic Party formally and became the most prominent face of the party in parts of south Kashmir. He was given the important charge of party coordinator from their home region ignoring many senior faces.
A science graduate from the Government Degree College for Boys in Anantnag, Sajad moved to Delhi and worked in the hotel industry for about a year before coming back and joining the Forest Department in Kashmir. He joined the department as Range Officer in 1990. He was later given Indian Forest Service grade in 2013 and continued to work till 2014 before opting for voluntary retirement. He was supposed to retire in 2025. Reportedly his father had also worked in the same department.
While in politics Sajad was always accused by some party workers and members of the public that he “meddled unduly in local administrative matters and discriminated on the basis of political affiliation.”
After Sajad’s cousin, Mehbooba Mufti became the chief minister in the BJPDP coalition; she inducted her brother in the politics and gave him the berth of a cabinet minister. Initially, there were rumours that Sajad too will be favoured and will be given the same rank or position by his cousin but that did not happen.
When The Tribune did his profile in 2016, he was quote saying, “politics is unpredictable.” But nobody knew that the Central government rule can be so unpredictable that he could join back even after giving his retirement.
The senior journalist Muzamil Jaleel reacted to the order in his social media post saying, “Are PDP leaders returning to their former government jobs? How? Who else? Sajad Mufti, nephew of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had taken voluntary retirement and joined PDP several years ago (see his profile in Tribune published in 2016). He was also PDP’s coordinator for South Kashmir. Now J&K administration has “put his services at the disposal of UT of Ladakh”.”
“Sajad Mufti had resigned from the Indian Forest Service in 2014 to join PDP, then headed by his uncle Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, but his resignation was neither accepted nor rejected and he was attached to the chief conservator of forests in Jammu on October 15, 2014, and continued to draw a salary,” The Times of India reported. “Later, during Mehbooba Mufti’s government in 2017, Sajjad Mufti had withdrawn his resignation. But he formally joined his duties in 2018, after the fall of the Mehbooba Mufti government in the middle of 2018, said sources in the forest department.”
Now, Jammu and Kashmir government transferred the services of 108 officials/officers, including that of Sajjad Hussain Mufti, to the Union Territory of Ladakh on the orders of J&K Lieutenant-Governor G C Murmu. The services of the 108 officials were placed at the disposal of the UT of Ladakh with immediate effect until further orders, or till final allocation by the central government under Section 88(4) of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-Organisation Act, 2019, the order says.
Meanwhile, a PDP insider said, “Such people never work for the people. He understood there is no space for politics presently so he managed to get his order rectified and now has the audacity to say he never resigned. Wasn’t his resignation hailed by then CM Mehbooba Mufti herself?”
Interestingly, the Jammu and Kashmir Police lost an official while guarding Mufti, the politician. On June 19, 2019, CT Farooq Ahmad of DPL [District Police Lines], Anantnag was killed by militants at Ziyarat Baba Naseer-Ud-Din Gazi in Bijbehara. He had gone for Friday prayers and was killed. A resident of Dirpora Khiram, Farooq was taken to a sub-district hospital in Bijbehara, where he was declared brought dead.