President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Wednesday appointed former home secretary NN Vohra as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, the state’s first governor in nearly two decades with a civilian face.
His tenure will begin from the day Vohra assumes charge, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said. Vohra will take over from Lt Gen (retd) SK Sinha whose term ended earlier this month. J&K was one of the eight states where the term of the gubernatorial office has expired or is vacant. As first reported in Monday’s edition of HT, Vohra was considered “the natural choice”.
The appointment of the Centre’s mediator for talks with separatist groups to the Raj Bhavan comes months ahead of the crucial assembly elections in the state, which would see attempts to encourage separatist elements to become a part of the electoral process.
The People’s Democratic Party, part of the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, was quick to welcome Vohra’s appointment, saying it was a good step by the Centre. “We expect that things will change for the better,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti quoted by PTI.
The state CPI (M) also hailed the decision, describing it as the need of the hour. It would send a signal that the Kashmir issue has to be addressed politically and military solutions are not viable.
Meanwhile, analysts believe the appointment of Vohra is clearly aimed at bringing separatists on board in the crucial times in the Valley when a dramatic change in the situation has taken place in the recent years.
“Governor SK Sinha was in control of the army in Kashmir. By sending Vohra, Delhi is conveying a subtle message to separatists that there is a change in its harsh policy towards them,” said Noor-ul-Qamrain, political commentator and editor of Muslim Kashmir.
“The post of governor in J&K is different from that of governor of other states. Vohra’s appointment at this time clearly indicated his services would be utilised for reaching out to all political groups including separatists,” said Qamrain.
Separatists though, on the face of it, do not see any significance in one individual replacing another in the Kashmir Raj Bhavan, yet they would be watching if Vohra would bring a change in the “policy and approach”.
“We know that he has been visiting Kashmir talking to people and he was also involved in track-two diplomacy between India and Pakistan, but all this has to be watched,” All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told HT over phone.
To a question whether the Hurriyat would be talking to Vohra, with whom earlier they had refused to discuss the Kashmir issue, saying that he was merely a “babu”, Mirwaiz said: "Our talks have to be held at certain level".