The 2013 batch IAS officer Asgar assumed the role of director of information with the J&K administration on July 30 after working as the Deputy Commissioner in Budgam. Five days into her joining this post, she shifted from her original role of informing people about government schemes to grievance redressal. Officer Nitya, on the other hand, has been responsible for overseeing the area between Ram Munshi Bagh and Harvan Dagchi village. This 40km stretch is one of the most important areas in Srinagar as it encompasses the Dal Lake, the Governor’s residence and the buildings where J&K political leaders are detained.
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Asgar is an MBBS doctor who quit her practice in Jammu a few years ago and cleared the UPSC exam. With that, she was the first women from her state to top the Kashmir Administrative Service exam in 2011. A year later, she was the second Muslim woman from Jammu & Kashmir to clear the All India Civil Services Examination in 2012. “As a doctor, I was treating patients. But today, the challenges in the Valley are different. It requires sternness and emotional support at the same time,” says Asgar to TOI. “I am glad if women can change society,” she adds.
After becoming an IAS officer, Asgar started visiting a lot of local girl’s school in different parts of Kashmir which familiarised her with the harsh realities young girls in the rural belt have to face when they start menstruating. She took the challenge as an opportunity to launch initiatives to spread awareness around the issue.
Two women officers stood out as they played key roles in crisis management as people negotiated the curfew to speak to their family members in other parts of the country and to visit the Eidgah. IAS officer Dr Syed Sehrish Asgar, director of information with the J&K administration and IPS officer PK Nitya are the only women officers on ground along with men from the forces to facilitate the smooth transition of the state to a Union Territory.
The 28-year-old Nitya, who originally belongs to Chhattisgarh, worked as a manager in a cement company before she decided to appear for the civil services exam, clearing it to become an IPS officer. “Besides securing civilians, I have to oversee the security of VVIPS. Of course, it’s a very different from my life in Chhattisgarh,” says the sub-divisional police officer of Nehru Park, who constantly deals with agitated commuters, ranging from retail businessmen to private school teachers.
Born and raised in Durg, Nitya tells TOI that while Durg is a peaceful place, she always loves challenges. She studied Chemical Engineering and speaks Kashmiri and Hindi fluently along with her mother tongue, Telugu.