Sprucing of street verges, pruning of trees, white zebra-crossings of important roads, grooving of street edges for rain water and lighting of paths. Kashmir is all set to welcome the state government’s darbar as it shifts to summer capital of Srinagar for six months, starting Monday.
For the past 139 years, Kashmir has been witnessing shifting of darbar between Jammu and Srinagar. This annual feature of shuttling between the two provinces, Kashmir and Jammu, has been aptly described by the state officials as ‘Darbar Move’. It was J-K’s monarch Maharaja Gulab Singh who in 1872 started the practice to escape harsh winter in Srinagar and severe summer in Jammu.
“Earlier, during the monarchy, it was the King and his court, which would shift capitals in the state. Now, it’s chief minister who moves with civil secretariat, Raj Bhawan and other important offices,” said Zafar Ahmad, a history scholar and researcher. More than 600 bureaucrats will shift their offices and files to new address in Srinagar’s Civil Secretariat.
The decades old system of government functioning has, however, proved boon for the relation between Kashmir and Jammu as wedge grows between the two provinces over the past three years. The Amarnath land row in 2008 stoked passions in both the regions, dividing the state on communal lines.
The Dogra certificate, dates of Amarnath Yatra and ‘suspect’ recruitments in administration have already the two provinces turning back on each other.
“‘Darbar Move’ remains as the only bonding factor between the two regions to understand each other,” said Ahmad.
The move will allow 7,000 employees, a mix of Hindu and Muslim population from the two regions to function together.
But the bonding costs the state Rs 30-50 crore. This high-cost affair had many in the state voicing their view for discontinuation of the practice.
However, the annual affair lifts the face of both the cities. “There is work on all main loads leading to the secretariat. Patching will be done and white zebra-crossing will be redrawn all along the stretch,” said a senior government official. Many hotels and other accommodations have already been decked up for employees in uptown Srinagar’s Rajbagh area.
The only worry, however, for all is traffic snarls from Monday as more vehicles will ply the same stretch, with many cars having red lights atop. The school timing has already been changed so that school vehicles and students can reach much before the secretariat timings.