Editor's note: With Jammu and Kashmir under Governor's Rule for the eighth time, Firstpost will run a series of reported pieces, analytical articles and commentary to track the progress of events in the state.
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra has a difficult job to do. But for a change, he seems to have the people on his side — people like Sajad Yusuf, a teacher recruited under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan about two years back.
Yusuf had taken part in about six demonstrations in Srinagar seeking his salary on time and pay hikes as per the 7th pay commission recommendations. He is one among the 41,000 teachers suffering the same plight, and he heaved a sigh of relief on 19 June when news about the imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir buzzed his cell phone. With the Mehbooba administration rejecting their claims, the teachers had taken to the streets raising anti-government slogans. At one stage, they were assured by the BJP-PDP government that a committee will be constituted to look into their grievances. “What grievances were they talking about?” fumed Sajad. “We are teachers and have been confirmed by the state government. The fact is that the coalition was clueless and directionless in more ways than one,” Sajad said.
Mohammad Yasin, leader of the SSA teachers union, added that the teachers have decided to call off their protests as they believe Governor Vohra will address their issues. “He is a man of his word and understands issues on merits,” said Yasin. “We believe that our salaries shall be disbursed without any hindrances now.”
Governor’s rule in the state was once viewed as a time of emergency and chaos, even killings, particularly when Jagmohan was the governor in 1990. That period also saw the exodus of Pandits from the state. But Narendra Nath Vohra proved himself to be an able administrator when he earlier took charge of the state administration after the death of PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. He implemented decisions that the elected government was unable or unwilling to do. In 2016, it was Mehbooba Mufti’s reluctance to take over her father’s chair that led to Vohra having to take charge for three months. Now, with the ending of the BJP-PDP alliance and Mehbooba’s resignation, Vohra is once again in the driver’s seat.
In 2016, Vohra took several measures to improve governance during his short reign. Now, with recent months seeing a spurt in militancy and protests, expectations are high that both governance and anti-militancy operations in the state will be better managed. “It isn’t me alone. Everyone had a reason to rejoice on Vohra taking charge,” Sajad says with a smile.
Vohra has certainly changed the popular narrative of governor’s rule in the state. Though in 2016, governor’s rule lasted just three months, Vohra and his team implemented some decisions that had been pending for long. An example of this was the dredging of river Jhelum, the absence of which had been the reason for the devastating 2014 floods in the state. The work was delayed for 10 months as the state did not even invite tenders. It needed the governor to finally initiate the dredging work. Also, the state government had been sitting over the disbursement of relief to thousands of flood victims. Again, Vohra walked the extra mile and ordered disbursement of relief.
Other notable changes Vohra implemented included giving the state a practical industrial and advertisement policy, implementation of a drug policy, termination of 100 doctors who had gone outside to practice without permission, additional two kilos of rice under the National Food Security Act for every household, setting deadlines for vacating army land at Tattoo Ground and High Ground in Anantnag and biometric attendance through Aadhaar for all state government employees.
Attendance and work at government offices had become a joke till the biometric system was introduced. A survey done some time after biometric attendance was made compulsory showed a huge turnaround in attitude and work. The average ‘in-time’ of the staff was being recorded at 9.28 am and ‘out-time’ at 5.46 pm. The survey’s findings showed that employees were no longer fudging their duty hours, which had been the rule earlier, and that offices that used to see employees arriving around 11 am witnessed employees at their desks from 10.15 am on an average. The survey conducted in the Jammu civil secretariat too revealed that 31.6 percent of the staff showed up before the office start time of 9 am, while 38.8 percent marked their presence between 9 am and 10 am.
Among Vohra's first decisions after Governor's Rule was imposed earlier this week was one over which the Mehbooba Mufti government had dilly-dallied over. This was the finalisation of recruitment rules and directing departments to take immediate steps to regularise more than 60,000 daily wage workers.
(Umar Shah is a Srinagar-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)
Updated Date: Jun 23, 2018 21:30 PM