NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary, Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, has stepped down amid "differences" with the coalition government headed by chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

An IAS officer of the 1978 batch, Khandey was appointed as the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir on February 18, 2013, during the rule of National Conference-Congress ruling alliance headed by the then chief minister Omar Abdullah.

However, soon after the PDP-BJP coalition led by Mufti assumed office in March this year, speculations were rife that the government was looking for a replacement for Khandey, who is retiring in November this year.

Khandey's daughter, Sehar Iqbal, contested the 2008 assembly election on a PDP ticket from Kokernag but lost to Congress's Pirzada Mohammad Sayeed.

Top government sources said things came to a pass when the cabinet went ahead with the meeting on August 21, which was held nearly after four months. In an unprecedented move, BR Sharma, who is tipped to become the new chief secretary, was called to attend the meeting, unofficially "replacing" Khandey, sources said.

Khandey, an accused in the infamous sexual exploitation case which rocked the state in 2006, was on leave on August 21 because of the death of a relative and he had sought time from the government to attend the mourning, which was allegedly not given.

"If the cabinet meet could wait for four months, it could certainly wait few more days," Khandey reportedly said about the meeting.

"There were developments that followed the meeting, but I am a happy man today," Khandey, who was acquitted by a court in Chandigarh after witnesses in 2006 scam turned hostile, told The Citizen, refusing to divulge more details.

The cabinet spokesperson and J&K's education minister, Naeem Akhtar, didn't answer repeated phone calls.

Sources in the government said the state's bureaucracy is "upset" about the arbitrary transfer of officials by the government. A news channel reported Khandey as saying that officers were being rotated like "shuttlecocks" by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led government. Sources said the administration is also unhappy that junior officials were being promoted in the administration ahead of seniors.

The cabinet recently effected a major reshuffle in the state administration during which some bureaucrats were promoted, allegedly after bypassing the norms. "The posting of deputy director, State Motor Garages (SMG), Jammu, Zakir Hussain as Director SMG J&K is one of the many instances where juniors were promoted out of turn," sources said.

"I would not like to go into those details (about the promotions in the state's bureaucracy)," Khandey, who also served as principal secretary to Mufti during his tenure as chief minister of J&K between 2002 and 2005, said.