Srinagar: It’s that time of the year when the Jammu and Kashmir civil secretariat makes its annual move to this summer capital following a century-old tradition and, quite naturally, a spit and polish job is under way to welcome the ‘Darbar’ when it begins arriving towards the end of this month.
The ‘Darbar move’, the six-monthly rotation of the top government offices between here and winter capital Jammu follows in the tradition created by the Dogra maharajas of the state, whose founder, Maharaja Gulab Singh, “purchased” Jammu and Kashmir for 7.5 million Nanak Shahi rupees (Rs.50 crore/$9 million at today’s rates) from the British East India Company in 1846 through the Treaty of Amritsar.
The Dogra maharajas ruled the state till 1947, when a tribal invasion from the newly-created Pakistan drove Maharaja Hari Singh out of the Valley. Unable to fight the invaders, the maharaja sought India’s help, which was provided from the Government of India which came after the state’s accession to India in October 1947 that ended the autocratic rule here.
Roads, official buildings, zebra crossings and railings are being painted to give Srinagar a spruced-up look. This is ironically happening at a time the people in Srinagar city and elsewhere in the Valley are disgusted because of an electric power crisis which the government says is there because it has no funds for purchasing additional power.
Kashmir has been spending around Rs.4,000 crore annually on getting electric power from the northern grid. Officials say while the government-owned power projects generate just 150 MW, the state needs over 1,200 MW to maintain uninterrupted power supply.
“Against the background of its inability to handle civic issues like electricity and unemployment, the way the administration is busy decking up the city just because the civil secretariat is moving back seems a bit callous,” said Noor Muhammad, 62, a retired bank officer.
The separatist leaders have also been opposing the Darbar move to Jammu, asserting that this amounts to virtually abandoning the people in the Valley.
“The present masters come to enjoy the summer months in the Valley and as the place gets cold, they run away to Jammu. The system and the masters behave the same way even though the names have changed,” said a senior separatist leader here.