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Senior MEA official seeks retirement

Special Correspondent

New Delhi: Rajiv Sikri, who will be the seniormost member of the Indian Foreign Service when Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran retires later this month, has sought early retirement in protest against his supersession for the top job.

On August 31, the Government had announced that Shiv Shankar Menon, a 1972 batch IFS officer currently posted as the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, would take over as Foreign Secretary from Mr. Saran on October 1.

Mr. Sikri, who along with Mr. Saran is from the 1970 batch, is Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), a post he has held since 2004.

Letter to Manmohan

According to Ministry sources, Mr. Sikri met Dr. Manmohan Singh — who is also Minister of External Affairs — on Friday and handed over a formal letter, expressing unhappiness at being overlooked for the job of Foreign Secretary and stating his request for early retirement.

The sources clarified that since the issue was a "service matter," the Ministry would not issue any news release once the matter was resolved.

`Will carry on duties'

They added that Mr. Sikri, a seasoned and highly regarded diplomat, had a busy schedule of events over the next fortnight, including meetings with foreign dignitaries and officials, and intended to carry out his duties.

Mr. Sikri was not available for comment.

Besides Mr. Sikri, a number of other IFS officers have been superseded by Mr. Menon's appointment, including Secretary (West) Shashi Tripathi from the 1970 batch. The others, however, are all serving outside India.

Explaining the difference between a resignation and a request for voluntary early retirement, the sources said an officer who resigned was not entitled to pension but only gratuity and provident fund. In case of early retirement, however, the officer concerned was entitled to pension, especially if a certain minimum number of years had been completed in service.

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