If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is looking to douse the flames lit by the Amarnath shrine land row, all he needs to do is flip through the pages of history. In 1987, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi defused a similar divisive situation within weeks.
On October 7, 1987, then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah tried to end the century-old practice of Darbar Move by which government offices were shifted from Srinagar to Jammu during the six winter months.
Abdullah ordered the permanent stationing of 20 departments in Srinagar and 17 in Jammu. The people of Hindu-dominated Jammu took this as an act of discrimination, fearing that it would lead eventually to Srinagar being the year-round capital of the state. They also felt that the region’s economy, boosted every year by the Darbar Move, would take a hit.
What followed was a backlash similar to the current one, triggered by the grant of 100 acres of forestland to the Amarnath shrine authorities for pilgrim facilities and a subsequent revocation of the order.
The shutdown in Jammu, Udhampur and other Hindu-dominated areas lasted five weeks. As in the past few days, supplies to the Valley were cut off.
The crisis was resolved after Gandhi intervened, rushing his Home Minister Buta Singh to the state. Singh persuaded Abdullah to revoke his order.
Though this revocation too led to angry reactions, they were few and lasted only four days. Normalcy was restored in both regions soon.