Kashmir: Governor rule clamped for the eighth time since 1977

Srinagar: With BJP’s decision to pull out of the alliance with Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), governor’s rule has been imposed in the state. The corridors of power have shifted to the Raj Bhawan here. This is for the fourth time that Governor Narendra Nath Vohra will be running the affairs of the state administration directly.  It is for the fourth time that the state has been placed under Governor’s rule in the last one decade and eighth time in the last four decades.

The Governor had forwarded a report to President Ram Nath Kovind for imposing governor’s rule in the state under Section 92 of the Constitution, after holding consultation with all the political parties.

Vohra, 82, a retired 1959 batch IAS officer of Punjab cadre, has been the Governor of the state since 2008 and was given a fresh term in 2013 that is slated to end by the end of this month (June 28). His term of office is, however, expected to be extended as annual Amarnath Yatra is going to start soon (expected from June 28).

With the change of guard in the state,the Governor on the very first day (June 20) held series of meetings with top civil administration and police officials at the Civil Secretariat here to review pace of developmental works and security scenario in the state. Security preparations for the annual Amarnath yatra also figured during the meetings.

Vohra directed Administrative Secretaries to personally review and ensure prompt and efficient delivery of various public services to the people; complaints regarding delays, irregularities and corruption to be dealt sternly and those responsible to be proceeded against without any fear or favour.He asked the Administrative Secretaries to send him reports regarding the up-to-date progress of Prime Minister’s Development Programmes-2015; causes of delay in the enactment of State legislation on the analogy of the Central Disability Act 2016; reasons of failure to implement the required measures for the conservation and cleanliness of the Dal Lake; implementation status of all flagship central schemes; status of construction of bunkers in villages located along the IB and LoC, timely payment of relief to the victims of border firing at IB/LOC, status of preparations for holding panchayat and municipal elections; position regarding stocking and supply of food and other essential commodities by Food and Civil Supplies Department etc.

As part of the Governor’s meetings, Northern Army commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh called on him and discussed the security situation in the state. The Governor and the army commander discussed certain issues about the need for very close coordination in security management in the Valley, particularly keeping in view the need to prevent collateral damage in counter-terrorist operations, the Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.

Besides, Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer BVR Subrahmanyam was appointed as the Chief Secretary of the state in place of B B Vyas, who along with K Vijay Kumar, a former IPS officer and an anti-naxal expert, were named advisers to the Governor.

Recipient of the prestigious Padma Vibhushan award, Governor Vohra has served as the Government of India’s interlocutor in Kashmir from 2003 to 2008, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India, Home Secretary of India, Defence Secretary of India and Defence Production Secretary of India.

The three-year-old PDP-BJP coalition government collapsed on June 19 with BJP pulling out of the alliance as its national general secretary Ram Madhav made a surprise announcement after the party high command summoned its Jammu and Kashmir ministers for emergency consultations in New Delhi. Madhav was quoted as saying, “It has become untenable for BJP to continue in this government.”Within an hour of Madhav’s announcement, Mehbooba Mufti and her entire cabinet submitted their resignation to the Governor. Surrounded by her entire team, Mufti while speaking to the media said, “Muscular policy will not work in J&K, can’t treat it as enemy territory. I am not shocked (at BJP’s decision). This alliance wasn’t formed for power. Thought alliance would benefit J&K.” She added that her government defended Article 370 and put up a strong defence against the abrogation of Article 35 (A) and reflected on her party’s achievements during this time-period.

As the news of BJP’s pull-out spread, social media websites including Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with comments, reactions and reflections. National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah commented, “She was cutting ribbons while BJP was cutting her legs out from under her. How I wish she had left with her head held high and her dignity intact! She was J&K’s CM, not of the BJP-PDP.”

Independent legislator Er Abdul Rashid said, “BJP may give ample reasons to justify its decision but the fact is that from New Delhi to Srinagar both governments have failed to suppress the people’s movement and the end of the coalition is a victory of all those forces, especially Kashmiris, who want the J&K dispute to be resolved once for all.” He added that BJP has made PDP a scapegoat for more than one reason.

Senior CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said in a statement here on June 19 that the leadership of both PDP and BJP are answerable before the people of Jammu and Kashmir “for their unprincipled alliance which ended today but not before sending the state in deep crisis.” He believed that BJP pullout at this particular moment has a “potential of creating greater political instability”.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter that the “opportunistic BJP-PDP alliance set fire to Jammu and Kashmir, killing many innocent civilians and soldiers, and that the damage would continue even if the state was put under central rule.”

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the BJP had committed a “Himalayan blunder by forming a government with PDP.” Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote on Twitter: “After ruining it, BJP pulls out of Kashmir. Didn’t BJP tell us that demonetization had broken the back of terrorism in Kashmir? Then what happened?”

Signs of strain in PDP-BJP alliance were visible after two BJP ministers participated in a rally the Hindu Ekta Manch had organized earlier this year in support of the accused in the rape and murder case of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Jammu’s Kathua district. The BJP had asked both ministers to resign from the state cabinet. Later, another straw that snapped the alliance could be the BJP’s decision to not extend the suspension of anti-terror operations in the Valley, which was announced at the onset of holy month of Ramadan. The month-long ceasefire that was announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh ended with the culmination of Ramadan on June 15. The ceasefire reportedly witnessed many grenade attacks, around 50 militant strikes and 41 killings. The coalition partners had come together in 2015, around four months after the State Assembly election threw up a fractured mandate.