NATIONAL

Mufti yet to tone up administration

JAMMU NOV. 24. The Jammu and Kashmir Government headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, which was expected to give the administration a fresh look, is still following the policy of `wait and watch', apart from making minor changes.

The Government has issued an order to ban the transfers and postings in keeping with the Chief Minister's assurances in Board meetings that he was in no hurry to change the officials. This was done as it was felt that uncertainty was affecting the working atmosphere in the offices. But the people feel that those who enjoyed the previous Government's patronage continued to do so without any check.

This not only projects the Mufti Government as being soft towards the previous regime, but also makes the people apprehensive about the administration.

Sources in the Government, however, say that an expansion of the Council of Ministers which is likely after Id-ul-Fitr (December 6) and the appointment of a new Chief Secretary are two important factors, which have forced the Government not to initiate any changes.

The Mufti Government has only eight Ministers so far and many from the Congress, Independents and to an extent the People's Democratic Party are eyeing a Cabinet berth.

The Chief Secretary, I.S. Malhi, is retiring by month-end. So, in case of an expansion, the Ministers would like to have officers of their choice which may not be possible if a reshuffle is made now.

For the Chief Secretary's post, the Government has not given any indication so far but three senior officers, Kumar Balakrishna Pillai, Sudhir S. Biloeria and Mohammad Shafi Pandit, are in the race.

However, sources disclosed to The Hindu that a Hindu-Muslim balance at the top level in the civil and police administration was the dominating factor, though Mr. Pillai is the seniormost officer.

Mr. Pandit, who has the distinction of being the first Kashmiri Muslim IAS officer and has held many important positions in the State and Centre, appears to be the only choice, since Ashok Kumar Suri is the DGP. ``The decision is yet to be taken,'' said a senior Minister.

Even as the Mufti Government is believed to be soft on Farooq Abdullah loyalists as was seen when the former Chief Minister's Principal Secretary, B.R. Singh, was suitably adjusted in the Civil Secretariat with the additional charge as Director-General of Institute of Management and Public Administration (IMPA), it has started showing the door to many others.

The Additional Director (Law and Order), Paramdeep Singh Gill, was shifted on Saturday to an insignificant Home Guards wing. He is a known Farooq loyalist. Similarly, the Director-General (Vigilance), Rajinder Tickoo, who was being tipped as the new DGP in the event of National Conference returning to power and seen to be close to the previous Government, is also being removed.

Though many in the new Government were gunning for Dr. Abdullah's crony and Chairman of the J&K Bank, Mohammad Yousuf Khan, he is not being shifted as of now.