The principal resident commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir government, New Delhi, Sonali Kumar, who was transferred recently, has alleged that she was given the marching orders because some local bureaucrats were unhappy with the food and lodging arrangements made by her during a recent trip to the capital.
Kumar, a 1979 batch IAS officer of the J&K cadre, has now been posted as chairperson, J&K special tribunal.
Kumar's allegation, coming at a time when the entire country is outraged over the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal for taking on the sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh, draws attention to the use of transfer as a disciplining tool to rein in bureaucrats.
Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, chief secretary, J&K, told HT that Kumar's allegations were "far-fetched" and her transfer, along with 18 others, was part of a routine administrative reshuffle. "Besides, Kashmiris get better biryani and kebabs here. Nobody would go to Delhi to have kebabs," he said.
On July 14, a delegation of officials - IAS officers and other bureaucrats- was in Delhi in connection with the finalisation of the state's annual plan. The delegation was accompanying chief minister Omar Abdullah and the state finance and planning ministers and Kumar was in charge of their hospitality.
According to sources, the delegation was served "poor" lunch and the bureaucrats belonging to the state were put up at Kashmir House while those from other states stayed at a starred hotel.
Soon after, Kumar was transferred and a report in a local daily linked the development with the bureaucrats' complaints against her over the Delhi episode.
Kumar, who has joined her new office, told HT, "I had arranged accommodation in accordance with seniority. I had made excellent arrangements for food, only kept the lunch light so that no one fell asleep."
According to sources, Kumar has been in the news in the past for all the wrong reasons. As principal secretary of the agriculture production department in 2008, she was indicted for alleged favouritism and bungling in promotions.