Former IAS officer Sonali Kumar, who served in Jammu and Kashmir for more than three decades, has claimed that she was once transferred for not serving biryani to a visiting delegation.
According to the publisher, Manhas Publications, the book — Unmasking Kashmir: A Bureaucrat Reveals — is an outsider’s journey through the labyrinthine innards of the J&K bureaucracy and what an outsider Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer goes through while serving in J&K.
According to the publisher, the book is about how Kumar spent 37 years trying to understand the people of Jammu and Kashmir, “solve their problems and focus on development.”
“What she found there was disturbing – an apartheid regime where the humanity is divided between insiders and outsiders, where outsiders nearly become second class citizens…. She tried to make the administrative system ‘people-friendly’ but soon became a victim herself. Little did she know that her quest for development in Kashmir will become a fight against corruption, nepotism, gender bias, communalism and anti-nationalism – all mixed together.”
Kumar was the first lady IAS officer to be allotted to J&K cadre with a batch of 1979. In the book, the author has claimed that she was summarily removed from the post of principal resident commissioner J&K House, New Delhi, for not serving biryani to a visiting delegation, Outlook online reports.
Her husband, Dr. Arun Kumar, also in the IAS of 1979 batch who as CEO Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, was at the heart of the 2008 “Amarnath land row” that led to months of shutdown and curfew in Kashmir and the killing of dozens of people by government forces.
The book promises “juicier scandals such as chief secretary hosting Hurriyat meetings at his official residence. Also, how a serving deputy commissioner embezzled Rs 8 crore of government of India funds, and when discovered, “disappeared” along with his PSO (Personal security Officer), driver, and official vehicle.”
“How a clerk in the legislative assembly of J&K rises to be the chief secretary and succeeds in creating a parallel cadre to the IAS without even a murmur of protest from GOI. How a serving chief minister claims he is separated from his wife, but the J&K govt. still keeps on spending crores on the electricity, rent and sundry other bills incurred on the residence that his wife continues to occupy.”
The book also details how an IAS officer was arrested by the CBI, jailed, then released because all witnesses and victims turned “hostile”, and later becomes chief secretary, according to Outlook.
It also touches upon the “transfer industry” in J&K and how VVIPs descend for sight-seeing and shopping in the state in the chapter “Shopping with the President’s Daughter”.