Iqbal Khanday Goes Home, J&K Without Chief Secretary



Iqbal Khanday’s last day at Civil Secretariat.

Barely three minutes ahead of 5 pm, the door of Chief Secretary’s office in civil secretariat’s third floor opened and a crowd gushed out. Countless officers accompanied Iqbal Khanday to the elevator on the last day of his 37-year long career even as scores were waiting on the ground floor – to bid him adieu.

Though the absence of men or women from the ruling political establishment made it unceremonious, the presence of very large number of officers and officials indicated that the secretariat denizens could still display the courage to send their boss home with utmost respect. Emotions were visible but under control.

Khanday shook hands with a lot of officers who had lined up for him, for the last time, and smiled and thanked everybody. Just a step outside the gate, a white SX4 car, the new vehicle very popular in government, had its engines revved up. By 5 pm precisely, Khanday was out of the civil secretariat.

While moving out of his chambers, Khanday was visibly emotional. He did not talk much. Even though many people were in the process of making to the gate, he did not wait even for a second.

The Chief Secretary, whose relationship with a section of the political executive had created a situation of collision, had, a few days back, decided to leave on Monday evening. He kept his word. It was not immediately known if he handed over the charge to any senior officer or if it was required at all. But almost everybody was around the moment Khanday moved out of his office. Principal Secretary to Chief Minister B B Vyas saw him off at the gate.

Khanday’s chamber for most of the day remained crowded, to the extent, that at one point of time, his aides kept the main door open to accommodate officials. “We might not have served tea to this number of people in a year that we served today,” one of the officials told Kashmir Life.

Almost everybody who is anybody in the civil secretariat visited Khanday today. These included even a huge group of peons who had worked with him during his career. Officers had actually driven over from peripheral postings to say him good bye. “He thanked me for the cooperation I extended,” one officer, who has served various positions in last 20 years, said. “But that is what we usually tell each other.”

Officers with whom this reporter interacted were not interested in listening to the controversy around his voluntary retirement three months ahead of his superannuation. They were talking more about the man’s conviction and courage to go against the tide without compromising the status of his position. They also lamented the failure of the government in not preventing this crisis from ending at such a bad note.

The outgoing chief secretary Iqbal Khanday at his office inside Secretariat.
The outgoing chief secretary Iqbal Khanday at his office inside Secretariat.

Meanwhile, informed sources revealed Kashmir Life that Khanday, in fact, had not asked for any post-retirement assignment, as was reported in a section of press. “That is not the sort of Khanday,” one source aware of the developments said. “Not even for a fraction of a second did the issue of PSC or J&K Bank cropped up!”

A couple of ministers had, however, visited Khanday in the last few days and requested him to reconsider his decision. Among others, these included Dr Haseeb Drabu, Imran Ansari and Javed Mustafa Mir. However, Khanday stuck to his guns and insisted he would not reconsider it. Notably, sources said Khanday is vacating his Church Lane official residence this evening.

Interestingly, however, no political being was seen around in the last one hour of Khanday in office. Officials said most of the PDP ministers were out on field visit. In fact, two senior PDP ministers left for Rajouri barely three hours ahead of Khanday’s expected exit from office.

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