1. Governor during insurgency

Umar Shah | Jun 21, 2018 | 5 min read


GOVERNOR’S Rule in Kashmir: The ‘Vohra’ factor gives reasons to rejoice

By Umar Shah

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir governor N N Vohra has a difficult job to do. But for a change, he seems to have the people on his side. People like Sajad Yusuf, a teacher recruited under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan about two years back.

After taking part in about six demonstrations in Srinagar seeking salary on time and pay hikes as per the 7thh pay commission recommendations, Sajad Yusuf, one among the 41,000 teachers suffering the same plight, heaved a sigh of relief on June 19 when news about the imposition of Governor’s rule  in Jammu and Kashmir buzzed his cell phone. With the Mehbooba administration rejecting their claims, the teachers had taken to the streets raising anti-government slogans. At one stage, they were assured by the BJP-PDP government that a committee will be constituted to look into their grievances. “What grievances were they talking about,” fumed Sajad. “We are teachers and confirmed by the state government. The fact is that the coalition was clueless and directionless in more ways than one,” Sajad told Asia Times.

Mohammad Yasin, leader of the SSA teachers union added that the teachers have decided to call off their protests as they believe Governor Vohra will address their issues. “He is a man of his word and understands the issues on merits,” said Yasin. “We believe that our salaries shall be disbursed without any hindrances now.”

Pro-people administrator

Governor’s rule in the state was once viewed as a time of emergency and chaos, even killings, particularly when Jagmohan was governor in 1990. That period also saw the exodus of pandits from the state. But Narendra Nath Vohra, ever since he took charge of the state’s administration for the first time in January 7, 2016 on the death of chief minister and People’s Democratic Party founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has proved himself to be an able administrator, implementing decisions that the elected government was unable or unwilling to do. In 2016, it was Sayeed’s daughter Mehbooba Mufti’s reluctance to take over her father’s chair demanding more confidence building measures, that led to Vohra having to take charge for three months. Now, with the break-up of the BJP-PDP alliance and Mehbooba’s resignation, Vohra is once again in the driver’s seat.

In 2016, Vohra took several pro-people measures to improve governance during his short reign. Now, with recent months seeing a spurt in militancy and protest activities, expectation is high that both governance and anti-militancy operations in the state will be better managed. “It isn’t me alone. Everyone had reason to rejoice on Vohra taking charge,” Sajad says with a smile.

Vohra has certainly changed the popular narrative of governor’s rule in the state. Though in 2016 governor’s rule lasted just three months, Vohra and his team implemented some decisions that had been pending for long. Like dredging of river Jhelum, the reason for the devastating 2014 floods in the state. The work was delayed for 10 months as the state did not even invite tenders. It needed the governor to finally initiate the dredging work. Also, the state government had been sitting over the disbursement of relief to the thousands of flood victims. Again, Vohra walked that extra mile and ordered disbursement of relief.

Straight to work

Other notable changes Vohra implemented included giving the state a practical industrial and advertisement policy, implementation of drug policy, termination of 100 doctors who had gone outside to practice without permission, additional two kilos of rice under the National Food Security Act for every household, setting deadlines for vacating army land at Tattoo Ground and High Ground in Anantnag and biometric attendance through Aadhaar for all state government employees.

Attendance and work at government offices had become a joke till the biometric system was introduced. A survey done some time after biometric attendance was made compulsory showed a huge turnaround in attitude and work. The average ‘in-time’ of the staff was being recorded at 9.28 am and ‘out-time’ at 5.46 pm. The Survey’s findings showed that employees were no longer fudging their duty hours, which had been the rule earlier, and that offices that used to see employees arriving around 11 a.m witnessed employees at their desks from 10.15 am on an average. The survey conducted in the Jammu civil secretariat too revealed that 31.6% of the staff showed up before the office start time of 9 am while, 38.8% marked their presence between 9 am and 10 am.

This time too Vohra swung into action immediately after notification of governor’s rule on June 20. Among his first decisions, again one over which the elected Mehbooba government had dallied over, was finalisation of recruitment rules  and directing departments to take immediate steps to regularise more than 60,000 daily wage workers. Feels Owais Ahmad, a scribe with a Kashmir based news agency, with governor Vohra taking charge, people believe that governance and work implementation will be fast tracked. “There is a flyover in Srinagar that hasn’t been completed in four years. Ask anyone in the street, he will tell you that Vohra will now get it completed,” Owais said.


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