BR Sharma appointed as J&K Chief Secretary
[Published in today's State Times http://news.statetimes.in/br-sharma-appointed-as-jammu-kashmir-chief-secretary/]
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Sep 7: Son of the soil bureaucrat and 1984-batch IAS officer Brij Raj Sharma assumed charge as Chief Secretary in the Government of Jammu and Kashmir shortly after his appointment was sanctioned by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Cabinet on Monday.
Following Mr Khanday’s application for voluntary retirement, STATE TIMES had categorically and exclusively reported in its issue of August 26 and again in today's edition that none other than Mr B.R. Sharma would be appointed as the next Chief Secretary. It had reported that unlike on August 21, Commissioner-Secretary General Administration Department Gazzanfer Hussain would attend Monday's meeting as Cabinet Secretary in absence of Chief Secretary. On August 21, Mr Sharma had functioned as Cabinet Secretary in Mr Khanday’s absence.
Fifty-five-year-old Sharma superseded four of his seniors---Arun Kumar and Sonali Kumar (1979), Ashok Kumar Angura (1980) and Khursheed Ahmad Ganai ( 1982)---even as Mr Ganai is likely to be shifted as Director General of Institute of Management and Public Administration (IMPA) in the next Cabinet meeting. Currently posted as Financial Commissioner Industries, Ganai is the only administrative secretary of a department functioning directly under Chief Secretary junior to him in IAS by two years. However, he has less than two months to his retirement from service.
Other three of Mr Sharma’s seniors being out of the bureaucratic hierarchy need not to be relocated to fresh postings. Mr Kumar, who is left with 16 months of service, is currently posted as Financial Commissioner Revenue outside Civil Secretariat while as Mrs Kumar, who is reaching superannuation on November 30, is functioning as Chairperson of the autonomous Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal. Mr Angurana, due to retire on April 30, 2016, is currently a full-fledged Secretary in Government of India.
The Cabinet meeting, which lasted for around 40 minutes and was presided over by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, took a unanimous decision to appoint Mr Sharma as the next head of the State bureaucracy after confirming Mr Iqbal Khandey’s voluntary retirement three months ahead of his date of superannuation.
The Cabinet also placed on record its appreciation for the "honesty, integrity, administrative acumen and remarkable contribution of Iqbal Khandey, in various capacities, towards development of the State", an official release said. It said that Mufti recalled with appreciation Khandey's performance as his Principal Secretary during his previous tenure as the Chief Minister.
Administrative secretaries of different departments, senior officers and secretariat employees called on Mr Sharma and felicitated him on assuming office of the Chief Secretary.
In his 31-year-long IAS career, Mr Sharma has held various important positions in the State administrations including Principal Secretary Home, Principal Secretary Planning and Development, J&K's Chief Electoral Officer, Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Divisional Commissioner of Jammu, Deputy Commissioner of Kathua and Kupwara, Director School Education Jammu and Excise Commissioner.
With an unblemished service profile, that finally earned him the distinction of becoming the State’s youngest Chief Secretary post-1990, Mr Sharma is widely respected and known for his honesty, integrity and dedication to public service. He has also the distinction of being one of the most nonaligned and uncontroversial bureaucrats with no regional or religious prejudices.
As reported by STATE TIMES, PDP and BJP had consensus over Mr Sharma’s appointment and both the principal opposition parties, National Conference and Conference, seemed to be not averse to his elevation to the hot seat. J&K Pradesh Congress Committee head Ghulam Ahmad Mir had told this newspaper last evening that his party would welcome Mr Sharma as the next Chief Secretary.
"We are aware that Mr Sharma and his family members attended Narendra Modi's Lalkar Rally in Jammu on December 1, 2013. But we know that he is a fairly professional and nonaligned public servant", Mir had said.