This idea of ``reverse darbar move’’ was floated by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah himself in May 2012, over two years ago, but beyond a trial balloon, there was no serious thought given to it. Today, it seems Omar’s idea needs to be debated more seriously, and sincerely, as Kashmir is in a crisis.
Not only are most parts of the Kashmir valley flooded, there is no likelihood of the problems going away in a hurry. At present, it looks like that only the nature of problems will keep on changing but mount they will.
Right now, rescuing people from floodwaters so that they live, and not die, is the topmost priority. And rightly so for what else can be more important than saving lives at this critical juncture. Of course, people have lost heavily, but the heaviest loss is the loss of live, something that is irreversible.
With passage of time, once rescue has been completed, and flood waters recede, it will be time for rehabilitation. Dozens of millionaires can find themselves living hand to mouth because of this natural calamity that hit them. However, life goes on and they will have to rebuild it, and there will be no choice, and no alternative.
When Omar had termed the bi-annual shifting of state capital as a “necessary evil” given the circumstances that prevail in our state, he was about to bid adieu to Jammu, the winter capital, and moving to Srinagar, for working there during the summers.
In trying to be candid, and speaking out his heart, Omar had pitched in for a reverse “darbar move“. He had explained that the government should stay with the people (ordinary masses) when they faced hardships due to extreme weather. This meant that the government offices should stay in Jammu during summers, and in Kashmir, during winters.
Undoubtedly, the idea was novel but attempting to put it into action means sacrificing a lot. If actually Omar’s words were to be translated into action, all the ministers, and bureaucrats, will have to live in harsh Jammu summers and in Kashmir during winters. But is anyone of them ready to do so, including Omar himself?
Omar’s idea remained a mere statement and nothing concrete was done to follow up on that.
Incidentally, it bears mention here that during the times of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, in 1872 to be exact, the seat of power shifts from between Jammu and Srinagar every six months. So, the ministers and bureaucrats have best of both the worlds. They spend their time in the salubrious Kashmir in harsh summers when temperature touches 45 Celsius in several Jammu areas.
At that time, the ministers, including the Chief Minister, are far removed from the realities of Jammu summers. Ordinary people battle power shortages, water scarcity and other allied problems. But the levers of power, wielded by the politicians and bureaucrats, are far away in Kashmir.
In winters, when the Kashmir Valley is battling a harsh winter, power often plays truant in many areas. Water supply pipes freeze, and burst, leaving people without water. Often at such times, they neither have electricity nor water to drink. But life goes on. The ministers and top bureaucrats are at that time in the comparatively comfortable Jammu where the winter is less harsh since it does not snow.
This means that the ordinary masses of both the regions, whether it be Jammu plains, or the Kashmir Valley, are left in the lurch by the powers-that-be. This is what Omar was referring to when he proposed a “reverse darbar move’’.
For good measure, Omar had said that the idea of “reverse darbar move’’ was his personal opinion, and not that of the government. He had made these comments after inspecting the guard of honour at the reopening of the “darbar’’ at Srinagar then (in May 2012).
May be now is the time when he can put his words into action, and ask the government to stay in Kashmir, during winters also, to lead from the front, in rebuilding. But that also means that in summers, the darbar will have to move to Jammu!
And trying to wriggle out of that commitment will only alienate the two regions. It is a catch-22!