Mir Nassarullah: An Eminent Public Servant

In the death of Mir Nassarullah, the state has lost an experienced and affectionate Public Servant who served the State with utmost dedication and devotion. A noble soul with humanitarian approach to the affairs of the State, his contribution to the development of Tourism Department of the State has been magnificent. The welfare of Shikarawallas, boatmen and horse runners at Tourist destinations has been always his primary interest.

Mir Nassarullah started his career as a Professor of Chemistry in S.P. College where his soft attitude and family like relationship with students and staff made him a promising teacher. His prominence shot up with his marriage to the daughter of Bakhshi Sahib, the then Prime Minister. This didn’t affect his personality which had unique features with his brothers notably Dr. Mir Habibullah and Mir Hafizullah. He retained his family traits to the fullest measure all along. It was in 1958 when the All India Services Act was extended to the state and first batch of prominent civil servants like SS Qadri, Noor Mohammed, PN Kaul, Chaudhary Bharat Bhushan among others were inducted to IAS under promotion quota. Mir Nassarullah and his colleague Professor Sheikh Ahmed were also inducted in IAS under the quota, reserved for non-administrative officers. After undergoing foundation course in administration, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner Srinagar and Professor Ahmed as DC Baramullah. While I was still a student in Amar Singh College and thereafter on my return from Aligarh had a chance meeting in his office. With Bakhshi Saheb’s famous speech in Ganderbal congratulating me for meritorious position, it became very easy for me to meet the higher-ups in political and administrative field. When I called on Mr Nassarullah as DC Srinagar, I was surprised to find him so relaxed, sweet and affectionate even with the people he was talking to. As a villager, I had a very bad impression about the Revenue Department functionaries but meeting Head of District Srinagar was extremely surprising. While he gave me his blessings and a cup of tea, there was hidden destiny for future when we were colleagues in Civil Secretariat – I as Secretary, General Administration and Nassarullah Saheb as PWD and Housing Secretary.

Our state has witnessed political turbulence all along but our good fortune was that we got eminent civil servants from Delhi after 1963. They were Nirmal Mangat Rai ICS, PK Dave IAS, Sushital Banerjee IAS, and Nirmal Mukherjee ICS who shaped the State Services, particularly Administrative Service in best professional mould. With the result that except a few cases the entire Civil Service remained apolitical and professional. Mir Nassarullah being self-respecting for obvious reasons chose central deputation for most of the period. For a short stint in the state, his development oriented experience in Housing and Urban Development helped the state in re-drawing the programs in this sector. His down-to-earth attitude created conducive atmosphere in the departments under his charge.

He succeeded Mr Noor Mohammed as Chief Secretary in the year 1984 and created team spirit and ensured healthy environment of work culture. He remained professional to the end so much so that when the government formation was being finalized in Raj Bhavan during the night operation in 1984, he was taken by surprise in the golf course by the news. Not surprisingly, even Dr. Farooq Abdullah the then Chief Minister was caught unawares at Pahalgam. Was it a coincidence that the first Prime Minister of the State was deposed during night operation in 1953 when he was at Gulmarg, and his son Dr. Farooq was at Pahalgam in 1984. While Sheikh Sahib was arrested, Dr. Farooq was given the choice either to resign or face dismissal. He insisted on floor test but was dismissed. It appeared that Kashmir Policy in Delhi was either refined with passage of time, or it was because of the devaluation of leadership! We in the Civil Service with Mir Nassarullah as head continued our business as usual. Here, it is pertinent to mention that change over of the government was very much in the air with a number of MLAs of ruling NC openly defecting. However, Dr Farooq Abdullah played a political masterstroke in the budget session in January 1984 when immediately after Governor’s address he got vote of confidence much to the surprise of all. He had the tacit support of Governor BK Nehru who did not want political instability in the state due to defections. Governor BK Nehru resigned thereafter and was succeeded by Shri Jagmohan. It is to the credit of Governor Jagmohan that he too had reservations about the stability of the new government with majority of just one member. He took full night for the preparation and had to yield to the orders of Central government, and thus the the dismissal of Dr Farooq Abdullah and installation of GM Shah whose government, because of internal contradictions between majority Congress and minority Awami National Conference, lasted just two years. While officers continued on their positions, Chief Secretary’s position as Head of Administration was weakened as Mir Sahib didn’t interfere beyond his legitimate duties. After the parliamentary election and defeat of ruling party, wholesale changes were effected much to the dislike of the Chief Secretary.

Mir Nassarullah having himself faced some upheavals in life due to his family connection with late Bakhshi Sahib, like enquiry through Ayyangar Commission, his integrity, soberness and excellent human behaviour stood fast with him and to the last not a single spot could be found on his clean apron.

After his retirement he continued his relationships with his friends and colleagues but the death of his wife and his own failing health saddened him. Being an ace golfer, his deteriorating health did not deter him from playing golf on a wheelchair. His erudition in Urdu literature, especially poetry kept him always in happy mood.

Mir Nassarullah had an apparent majestic style but always remained humble and sweet, true to his professorial outlook. May God Almighty bless his soul along with all those who have served the State with all sincerity and devotion. Amen.

Sheikh Ghulam Rasool is former Chief Secretary, J&K Government.