Athar Amir-ul-Shafi Khan belongs to a south Kashmir village in Anantnag district where he was born to lower middle class parents. His father is a teacher in a junior college and his mother is a housewife.
Khan got his early schooling in a village school not far from his Devipora village.
For pre-professional 10+2 education, Athar was sent to the Christian missionary Tyndale Biscoe School in Srinagar.
After passing his 12th, Khan made it to almost all professional selections in the state and outside including medicine and engineering.
He was finally selected for IIT Roorkee. This year's was Khan's second attempt at the civil service exams. He was also selected earlier but got a lower rank and got into the Indian Railway Traffic Service.
In 2010, a Kashmiri doctor, Shah Faesal became the first Kashmiri to top the IAS selection list. Faesal was allotted the J&K cadre of the IAS and is presently posted as director of school education in Kashmir.