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Jammu and Kashmir Govt Defers Biannual Darbar Move Due to Covid Threat

For File: Police officers present a guard of honour to Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha (unseen), during the reopening of the Civil Secretariat in Jammu, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. (PTI Photo)

For File: Police officers present a guard of honour to Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha (unseen), during the reopening of the Civil Secretariat in Jammu, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The biannual shifting of the seat of governance between Jammu and Srinagar to escape harsh weather conditions is a more than a century-old practice.

In the wake of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the newly carved out Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the UT government has deferred Darbar Move — the biannual practice of shifting the seat of governance from one capital city to another.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only place in the country with two rotating capital cities, Srinagar in summer and Jammu in the winter, with the seat of governance shifting between the two cities, twice a year.

The Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir held a high-level meeting on Thursday to take stock of the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases across the Union Territory and to take measures to control the spread of the pandemic.

“In view of the sharply rising cases of Covid in J&K, the Govt has taken few important decisions ensuring safety of employees. Darbar move deferred because of Covid. Secretariat to function in both Srinagar & Jammu. Office functioning not be affected because of eOffice” (sic), the office of the LG tweeted.

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It further tweeted that (sic) “As J&K is witnessing surge in number of Covid cases, the threat it poses to the people/staff on the move and the implantation of eOffice in both the secretariats, in move offices it has been decided to defer the Darbar Move this time.”

The secretariat will function at Srinagar & Jammu with staff equitably split between the two secretariats and functioning will not be affected as files will be moving electronically between the both secretariats.

The shifting of the seat of government is a biannual practice that was introduced in Jammu and Kashmir in 1872 by Maharaja Ranbir Singh, the then ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. The practice was introduced to escape the harsh weather of Srinagar during the winters and Jammu during the summers.

In the past, there have been voices raised across Jammu and Kashmir to discontinue the process, terming it futile and a waste of money that is spent on the transportation of the staff, files and other office items from one city to another.

In late 80’s, then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had decided to go away with the practice and decided to bifurcate the secretariat by permanently keeping half departments in Srinagar and half in Jammu, however, the move saw large scale protests in Jammu region with the entire region observing complete bandh for over 45 days. The Farooq government had to withdraw the decision.

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first published:April 15, 2021, 16:39 IST