The 149-year-old bi-annual custom of shifting the capital of Jammu and Kashmir to Jammu throughout winters and Srinagar throughout summers is coming to an finish. Peerzada Ashiq stories on a grand and costly apply that led to the area turning into a melting pot of cultures and what its finish portends for the folks
Hundreds of impassable snow-capped mountains are unfold over the 300-km stretch separating the Jammu area from the Kashmir Valley. A slim freeway which cuts by means of the Pir Panjal mountain vary and snakes by means of the 2.85-km-long tunnel close to Banihal connects the Dogri-speaking Hindu inhabitants with the Kashmiri-speaking Muslim inhabitants.
Given that the Kashmir Valley is liable to landslides, capturing stones and heavy snow, a practice started, 149 years ago, of shifting the capital of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to Srinagar throughout summers and to Jammu throughout winters. The ‘Darbar Move’, which introduced two linguistically and culturally completely different areas nearer, was completely depending on the vagaries of climate.
Today, this tradition is likely to become history after the Lieutenant-Governor’s administration determined to shift to e-offices this month. The administration says the epic bi-annual transfer is simply too expensive and takes up treasured time and sources. But the resolution has left tons of of households fearful that their decades-old hyperlinks with households throughout the mountains could fade away. Students are involved about shedding alternatives; merchants about shedding income. Some suspect that the transfer has a bigger motive.
Sharing of cultures
Notwithstanding the distance and the distinction in tradition and language, Chasfeeda Shah, 30, a media skilled from Kashmir’s Hyderpora, and Maanya Sethi, 26, a human useful resource supervisor from Jammu’s Gandhi Nagar, grew up seeing the Shahs and the Sethis as one household since 1983. An opportunity assembly between Chasfeeda’s father Bashir Ahmad Shah, a police officer, and Maanya’s grandfather Surinder Sethi, a Section Officer in the Irrigation Department, in Jammu metropolis reworked right into a bond and the Sethis and Shahs grew to become one prolonged household.
Also learn: Prepare the ground for a ‘Naya J&K’
“I was posted in Jammu during the Darbar Move in 1983 and met Sethi sahib. Since then, we have stuck together through thick and thin. Sethi sahib met with an accident in the 1990s. I shifted him to hospital and stayed by his side till he recovered. Thereafter, we celebrated weddings, Eid and Diwali together,” Shah says.
Maanya is a fan of Kashmiri ‘wazwan’, an array of meat dishes served at Kashmiri weddings, and Chasfeeda developed a candy tooth for the well-known sweets of Jammu, often known as a metropolis of temples. “I was introduced to ‘wazwan’ dishes when the Shahs invited our family on Eid many years ago. I got hooked to minced meat dishes like Rista and Gushtaba. I love spending summer vacations at the Shahs’ house in Srinagar. Ours is a relationship that cannot be expressed in words. When my grandfather passed away, Bashir sahib booked a flight so he wouldn’t miss the final rites,” Maanya says.
For Chasfeeda, born in conflict-ridden Kashmir, shifting to Jammu meant six months of regular life, away from bomb blasts and frequent alternate of fireside. She first entered a cinema corridor in Jammu as a result of all the cinemas have been closed in Kashmir in the Nineties. “The first movie I watched was Hum Saath-Saath Hai in Apsara cinema hall in Jammu’s Gandhi Nagar. In Jammu, I would attend coaching classes conducted by a Kashmiri Pandit teacher and eat without any fear on the roadside. I like Jammu weddings — they’re loud and grand unlike those in Kashmir,” Chasfeeda says.
In July, when the Lieutenant-Governor administration issued a directive asking all the workers related to the Darbar Move to vacate their flats inside three weeks, with out citing any purpose, Chasfeeda was upset. In Jammu, Maanya felt the similar method. “I will miss the Shahs if the Darbar Move stops,” she says.
This shouldn’t be the first time that the Darbar Move has come beneath a cloud. In January 1987, throughout his go to to J&Ok, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was stranded in Kashmir as a consequence of heavy snowfall whereas the capital was in Jammu. “Gandhi asked the Farooq Abdullah government to have a re-look at this practice because officials were unavailable when they were needed in Kashmir during winters. However, an agitation started by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries-Jammu and the Jammu Bar Association forced the government to keep the tradition,” says former Director General of Tourism, Saleem Beg, who has continued to go to Jammu each winter since the Nineteen Seventies, and even after his retirement.
A committee fashioned in 1987, headed by the then Chief Secretary, Shiekh Ghulam Rasool, submitted a report titled ‘Darbar Move: The Reality’ to the authorities, to position earlier than it the execs and cons of the apply. But the report was placed on the again burner after the Jammu agitation.
“The process of shifting hundreds of files and employees ran smoothly. It always connected people, regions and cultures,” Beg says.
Per week-long carnival
The Hindu Dogra rulers from Jammu expanded their boundaries as much as Afghanistan in the nineteenth Century, however most of them most well-liked to remain in the Valley. It was in 1872 that Maharaja Ranbir Singh started the apply of shifting his authorities from Jammu to Srinagar in summers, taking the arduous journey alongside the Banihal Cart Road.
Also learn | Congress places five demands at PM’s meet on J&K
“Dogra rulers popularised the papier-mâché artwork of Kashmir in many Jammu structures and the architectural elements of the Dogra Raj are visible in monuments in Srinagar such as the Sher Garhi Palace. Dogra ruler Pratap Singh was so impressed by Kashmir’s calligraphy that he started an annual award for calligraphy artists,” says Beg.
The Dogra rulers arrange key establishments like J&Ok’s first museum and the Oriental Research Library in Srinagar. “Even the Royal Samadhi is in Srinagar. The Dogra Maharajas preferred to be called as Kashmir’s kings and contributed a lot to the Valley’s socio-economic development,” Beg says.
Zafar Choudhary, a Jammu-based author and writer of the guide, Kashmir Conflict and Muslims of Jammu, goes to the extent of claiming that the Dogra rulers have been biased in direction of Kashmir. “The first power project of J&K was set up in Uri in the Valley so that the King’s palace could be well lit in Srinagar. No such project came up in Jammu despite the Chenab river flowing through it. When Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of the modern but difficult State of J&K, stepped down for his son, Ranbir Singh, he decided to live the last four years of his life in Kashmir as its Governor,” Choudhary says.
The Dogra Maharaja used tons of of carts pushed by horses and elephants to maneuver to Srinagar by means of the treacherous stretch connecting Jammu and Kashmir. Cut to 2019: information and data, many loaded in laborious drives and computer systems, took a few week to maneuver to the capital through vehicles and buses. A complete of 151 authorities departments used to shift capital twice a 12 months in J&Ok.
Also learn | A good beginning, but not result-oriented: Tarigami
“All the departments would first bundle their files and seal them and then stock them in tin trunks. A team of every department would head for the capital where everyone would be shifting. On arrival of the trucks, the teams would identify the trunks and unload them and place the files in the respective departments,” Beg remembers.
According to the officers of the J&Ok Estates Department, it took 152 vehicles and 56 buses in April 2019 to ferry information and workers from Srinagar to Jammu. The August 5, 2019 resolution to finish J&Ok’s particular standing, together with the COVID-19 pandemic, disrupted the Darbar Move in 2020 and 2021.
According to official figures, 10,112 workers had moved to Jammu, together with 1,179 gazetted officers, 7,110 non-gazetted workers and 1,823 Class IV workers, in April 2019. “While the loading and unloading of files cost ₹45.41 lakh, the carriage cost ₹116.55 lakh. The Darbar Move cost about ₹1,636.04 lakh, besides the additional expenditure of ₹1,213.44 lakh as special allowance to the employees,” an official of the Estates Department says, on the situation of anonymity.
The Darbar Move, which passed off twice a 12 months — in October/November to Jammu and in April/May to Srinagar — would take two weeks of working days. From the Raj Bhavan to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to the Chief Justice’s workplace, the shifting of the capital was like a week-long carnival. It value round ₹198 crore in 2019 to maintain the custom alive, officers say.
According to the Estates Department, 151 non-public homes, 125 J&Ok Tourism Department Corporation constructions and 1,457 lodges have been booked for shifting workers to Kashmir, whereas 69 non-public homes, 253 J&Ok Tourism Department Corporation constructions and 2,387 lodges have been booked in Jammu. Arranging for lodging value the exchequer ₹4,161 lakh in Srinagar and ₹2,053.99 lakh in Jammu in 2019.
Under the scanner of the court docket
It was this “expenditure, wastage of time and the labour” that caught the consideration of the J&Ok High Court in May 2020 whereas it was listening to a petition on the Darbar Move and the ongoing pandemic. A Division Bench of the court docket comprising then Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal directed the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, and the Chief Secretary of J&Ok “to examine the issues raised by the court”.
Monika Kohli, amicus curiae, argued towards the Darbar Move. “Jammu and Srinagar are well connected by air, road and rail service. The distance of about 300 km is covered in half an hour by flight. It is clearly logical that the consideration of extreme weather in support of the Darbar Move does not hold weight today,” she mentioned.
A battery of attorneys additionally questioned the safety of data that have been being ferried from one place to a different. “Sensitive documents and old archives cannot tolerate exposure of any kind. Such documents may be on matters of security of the country as well as of the Union Territory. This security ought not be compromised for any reason whatsoever,” Kohli mentioned.
Chief Justice Mittal, who was impressed by the arguments, referred to as for rationalisation of the custom. “The amount of money, resources and time which could be saved could be utilised towards the welfare and development of the Union Territory, which has otherwise witnessed much turmoil. The financial savings and resources could be utilised for contributing towards the protection and propagation of its inherent culture and heritage of the communities,” she noticed.
Beyond an emotional bond
The Darbar Move is not only an emotional bond between Kashmir and Jammu. Hundreds of scholars go away turmoil-hit Kashmir Valley to go to Jammu to hunt admission into instructional institutes and teaching centres. Retailers in Jammu procure particular shares for the 10,000 workers and their households and mates who mill round Jammu for six months.
Naresh Katoch, gross sales supervisor of the well-known candy store, Pahalwan Di Hatti, at Jammu’s Wave Mall, says his store has historically attracted patrons from Kashmir throughout winters. “Sales would see a jump when Kashmiris would stay in Jammu. Kashmiris have a special preference for Sund Panjeeri, Kala Kand, Chana Murgi and chocolate bars and would take huge stocks back to Srinagar, where we don’t have an outlet,” Katoch says.
Similarly, Jammu’s Khati Ka Talab space has change into a hub of pink tea sellers. “Kashmiris prefer pink tea or noon chai (salty tea) and special morning bread. From just two to three shops in the 1980s, there are over a dozen shops serving the tea,” says Niyaz Ahmad, a shopkeeper who shifted from Ramban space to Khati Ka Talab in the Nineteen Eighties and managed to arrange a buzzing tea enterprise.
“The Darbar Move, if it was a practice in the West, would have been an annual festival and would probably have everyone participating, even outsiders; it would be used to showcase the uniqueness of the region. But here it’s mired in politics and confusion. The fact remains that there is no viable alternative to the practice so far. Can J&K afford an administrative capital somewhere between Jammu and Srinagar,” Choudhary asks.
He says many main retail retailers in Jammu have stopped shopping for contemporary shares now that the pandemic has disrupted the apply. “Shopkeepers would procure special stocks in September for the Kashmiris who would travel and stay here for six months,” he says.
Arun Gupta, who heads the Chamber of Commerce-Jammu, says the authorities will quickly present a clarification about the transfer. “The tradition is not merely about shifting of files but a living example of brotherhood. We will oppose any move to end it. Shifting may cost the exchequer ₹200 crore but the fact remains that the people of Kashmir spend thousands of crores here and vice versa. It’s the job of the government to maintain brotherhood in J&K,” he says.
Politics over the Darbar Move
Three Jammu-based political events — the Bharatiya Janata Party, the J&Ok National Panthers Party, and Ikkjutt Jammu — have welcomed the transfer to desert the apply. They see this as an finish to Kashmir’s domination over the Civil Secretariat, the seat of governance in J&Ok. Kashmir-based events have opposed the transfer.
Choudhary says there have been extra Kashmiri workers than Jammu ones in the Secretariat in the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties. “That gave birth to the notion that there was a bias against Jammu,” he says.
The apply resulted in the area turning into a melting pot of cultures. Marriages passed off between folks from completely different areas: Muslims from the Kashmir Valley, the Chenab Valley and the Pir Panjal Valley, in any other case separated by mountains. It resulted in new cross-cultural Muslim colonies arising in the environment of Jammu metropolis.
“Jammu has seen a new cultural landscape with cross-cultural marriages. New colonies have come up. If the Darbar Move stops, people from the Chenab Valley and the Pir Panjal Valley will feel like a part of them is not there,” Choudhary says.
However, senior BJP leaders like Kavinder Gupta termed the finish of the Darbar Move akin to the August 5, 2019 transfer, which took away the particular constitutional place of J&Ok.
“We welcome it. The first priority is governance. There are e-offices in place now. It will not impact cultural interaction. Who has time to interact in this era of Internet and social media? The only issue is that the Jammu Civil Secretariat requires equal recruitment: about 70% of the recruits in the Secretariat are from Kashmir. In fact, most of the higher posts are occupied by the people of Kashmir,” Ikkjutt Jammu president Ankur Sharma mentioned.
More than resolving the subject, the Lieutenant-Governor administration has ushered in new challenges for itself. Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief M.Y. Tarigami has requested the authorities to clarify the place the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police, and the administrative secretaries will perform from. “If people have to meet any officer, where will they meet him or her? Where will the Assembly function from? Where will the Raj Bhavan be? There is no clarity on this issue,” Tarigami mentioned.
Many political analysts worry that the transfer will drive the wedge between the Kashmir and Jammu areas deeper, which might ultimately consequence of their separation, the method Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory on August 5, 2019. Gul Wani, head of the Department of Political Science at Kashmir University, is cautious of the transfer. “On the face of it, it seems like a step towards good governance. But the fact remains that people from Kashmir see Jammu as a safe location to settle down and buy property. Most prefer to spend their earnings there. The old and ailing population, who cannot live in severe winters in Kashmir, prefer the warm weather in Jammu. In contrast, the people from Jammu are not able to settle down in Kashmir. The whole move has a conspiracy angle to it. In Kashmir, conspiracies are proven true with time,” he says.
Meanwhile, tons of of information of the 97 departments, which embody 47 Secretariat-based departments, have been digitised thus far. The J&Ok e-office mission has scanned and digitised round two crore pages from 3.50 lakh information, in a bid to finish the apply of shifting the capital. “The e-office is one of the reformative steps taken to put an end to the Darbar Move in J&K, thus saving crores of rupees spent on transporting files in hundreds of trucks,” Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha mentioned earlier this month.
In Srinagar’s Hyderpora, Chasfeeda is singing a lullaby to her 18-month-old daughter, Madiha. “I am not sure now if the relationship between the Shahs and the Sethis will last through the next generation,” she rues, pointing in direction of the child.