Jammu: Keeping alive an over 150-year-old autocratic tradition, top offices of the Jammu and Kashmir government will shut in this winter capital Friday to begin their six-monthly sojourn in summer capital Srinagar.
The practice of shuttling top offices, including those of the governor, the chief minister, his ministerial colleagues, top bureaucrats and police officers was started by the Dogra maharajas to avoid the extreme summer heat of Jammu and the bitter winter cold in the Valley.
After 1947 when the state acceded to India, the Dogra rule ended abruptly, but the practice of shifting top offices between Jammu and Srinagar did not.
Every year, millions of rupees are spent on shifting records, loaded in steel trunks and almirahs, between the twin capitals.
Even higher amounts are spent on providing accommodation and other comforts to the ministers and top bureaucrats who have official residences in both capitals.
Since the practice of shifting offices owes itself to the Dogra tradition and times, it is still known as the ‘Darbar Move’.
The term alludes to the pomp and pageantry associated with the movement of the erstwhile ruler between the two capitals.
Ironically, the problems of the people in the two regions of Jammu and the Valley become more serious after the Darbar Move.
For Jammu residents, extreme heat, frequent electric power cuts, shortage of drinking water and other summer-related problems start when the state government has technically “abandoned them”.
The move to the Valley takes place at the end of April each year and before the onset of winter, the Darbar moves back to Jammu towards the end of October.
When heavy snowfall, extreme winter cold and shortages of essentials of life hit the Valley during the winter months, the political masters are already basking in the soothing winter sun in Jammu.
To facilitate the shifting of officials, records and the like, the traffic department has announced that there would only be traffic from Jammu to Srinagar on April 25 and 26 and on May 3 and 4.
On these these days, no vehicle will be allowed to move from Srinagar to Jammu to facilitate the smooth passage of the Darbar to the Valley.
“Not even army convoys would be permitted on these days on the highway in the opposite direction,” a senior officer of the traffic department here told Media Sources.
Attempts to do away with the practice by governments in the past have met with stiff resistance from both Jammu and Srinagar.
“It is more of a political issue and less of an administrative exigency now. But, I don’t think anybody, howsoever, powerful he might be politically can now do away with the practice,” a senior minister of the PDP-BJP coalition told Media Sources here, requesting anonymity.
Despite huge expenditure and inconvenience to people as offices remain closed for more than a fortnight each year on account of the closing and opening of records, offices will shut here on Friday and reopen Srinagar on May 5.
“As Galileo said about earth’s revolution, ‘E pur si muove’ (And yet it moves), no matter how hard it hits the common man”, Jammu resident Siddarth, 28, told Media Sources wryly.