Iqbal Khanday

Former chief secretary, Iqbal Khanday, a 1978 batch IAS officer breathed his last while losing it to cancer at SKIMS on November 19. He was 63. Born in 1955, Kahnday’s tenure was a mix of many highs and lows. In 2013, during the NC-Congress coalition government, Khanday rose to the rank of chief secretary – the ultimate seat of bureaucracy. He led Kashmir bureaucracy for almost next three years.

Khanday was the first direct IAS recruit from the valley who made it to this level and third from the state. His senior M Shafi Pandit could not make it and retired just a step earlier.

Before that Khanday has served state at a number of positions in different capacities. He has been a Deputy Commissioner, a director and then headed planning – for a long time, tourism, health, home, finance, R&B, besides heading the IMPA. He was also principal secretary to the former chief minister Mufti Sayeed for a brief period of time.

In civil secretariat, Khanday had a reputation of being active who took less time to dispatch off the files from his chamber.

He had added many feathers to his cap, but his career was also embroiled in many controversies. He was accused in the infamous 2006 sex scandal and was arrested by CBI. He was later absolved of all the charges by the trial court in Chandigarh. However, the accusation had halted his growth in his career for some time. In 2015, a few months before his superannuation, Khanday took premature retirement from his service, citing personal reasons. But reports were rife that he did so in protest when his domain was trespassed and some of his juniors were transferred without his knowledge.

As a bureaucrat, Khanday had no virtual affiliation with any political ideology. But the former finance minister Haseeb A Drabu describes him as one of the “ghost founders” of Peoples Democratic Party. “I think expectations that he would do the bidding of the party were misplaced. This led to friction between him and the government and he sought voluntary retirement,” reveals Haseeb A Drabu.

Apart from his controversies, Khanday had health issues. He was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.  He had to pass through critical surgery in advanced stage-III of lung cancer and a recurrence involving other organs more than twice at Tata Memorial Hospital Mumbai and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York in 1995-97. Extensive recurrence of the malignant disease in April 1997 had involved his chest wall, ribs, and pleura.

What added more to his already bad luck was when his lone son, Sajid Iqbal, got killed in a tragic road accident. Khanday is survived by his wife Kaneez Fatima, a judge and his daughter Sehar Iqbal.

– Umar Mukhtar


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