Srinagar: On 15 June 2021, Sajad Ahmad Sofi, was booked when he in a public hearing offended Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner (DC) Krittika Jyotsna by being a “non-Kashmiri” thus having less expectations from local populace to address their grievances in the district.
Hours after making the comments, Sofi, a social activist, was called to the local police station and booked under the Indian Penal Code’s (IPC) section 153 for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups.
Jyotsna, a 2014 batch of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Uttar Pradesh (UP) cadre, had taken over as DC Ganderbal from Shafqat Iqbal and became the second woman to command the district.
Though the incident was later buried as an aberration, the exclusion of Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) cadre from key postings in bureaucracy has more or less become a reality post abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019.
The merger of the J-K cadre with Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre under Reorganisation Amendment Act, has drastically reduced the presence of indigenous Kashmiris at the top positions in the bureaucracy in the newly formed Union Territory.
According to the General Administration Department (GAD) there are a total authorized strength of 75 IAS officers in J-K.
Of 75 IAS officers currently posted in Jammu and Kashmir, majority of the posts are held either by IAS or Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers belonging to the outside J-K.
As per the GAD, almost all the top posts that include the secretary, joint secretary, and principal secretary, are held by the non J-K cadre.
Among six principal secretaries to the administration, only one post is currently held by J-K domicile, while rest of the five posts are occupied by cadres belonging to Bihar, Punjab and Rajasthan state.
Similarly, posts like Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to Governor, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Principal Resident Commissioner, Divisional Commissioners, are all occupied by the outside cadre.
In Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s secretariat, among the seven key positions that include Principal Secretary, OSD, ADC, Media Advisor, Principal Private Secretary, Additional Principal Private Secretary and P A to Governor only two posts are held by the J-K domicile.
Similarly, of the three advisers to LG Sinha, only one is from J-K. Sinha himself belongs to Uttar Pradesh.
On 6 February 2019, the Government of India (GoI) abolished the J-K state cadre of the civil services and made it part of the AGMUT through an ordinance.
In a gazette notification, the GoI said the President has promulgated an ordinance to amend J-K Reorganisation Act, 2019.
The ordinance has replaced sub-sections 2-6 of the law with two sub-sections, which say that members of IAS, IPS and IFS for the existing J-K cadre “shall be borne and become part of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre, and all future allocations of All India Services Officers for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union territory of Ladakh shall be made to Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre for which necessary modifications may be made in corresponding cadre allocation rules by the Centre.”
Given its special constitutional status, there was a practice of 50:50 formula in terms of recruiting officers belonging to the J-K and from the All India Service officers.
However, after losing its limited autonomy, it has now become a subject to the 67:33 rule, reducing the number of positions available for KAS officers.
Talking with The Kashmir Walla, a senior government official, wishing anonymity said that from 5 August 2019, post abrogation of Article 370, all the Kashmiri officers were removed from the top positions in the bureaucracy in the region.
“Whosoever officer was kept from J-K belongs to the minority community. There is a huge trust deficit between the current government and the officers belonging to the majority community in the bureaucracy,” an officer said.
In the police department also, all the top positions are held by non J-K IPS officers.
The Director General of Police (DGP), Inspector General of Police (IGP) and majority of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) posts are occupied by the UP and Bihar cadre.
On 23 September 2020, National Conference (NC) president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah also raked up the issue of less Muslim faces in the bureaucracy.
“Today, you have the LG who is Hindu, the DG and the two IGs are Hindus. But during our time we had representation from both communities. When we were in power – be it my father, me, my son, Mufti Sahab or others – Hindus and Muslims were equally distributed in the bureaucracy. Today, that balance is not there. There is a total wipeout. Do you think only one community has the brains and the other community does not have any brains at all,” Abdullah said in a 44- minute interview to The Wire.
As on 19 March 2021, among the 64 Indian Police Service (IPS) officers currently deputed in J-K, only 13 belong to the erstwhile state that includes 10 from Jammu and three from Kashmir division. One officer belongs to Ladakh.
A highly ranked police official told The Kashmir Walla that the disarmament of J-K police on 5 August 2019 was a clear message from New Delhi that they don’t trust Kashmiris (especially Muslims) to run the state affairs.
“I think this is possibly the main reason that today we see less officers from J-K holding top positions in the police department,” an officer said.