Governor's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir: Helmed by NN Vohra and veteran officers, state will be in good hands

Jammu and Kashmir has an extraordinarily respected and experienced set of officers at the helm to administer Governor's Rule.

Governor NN Vohra himself has earned immense respect over the 10 years he has held this most difficult job. He took over on 26 June, 2008, when the state was in utter turmoil over the transfer of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board. He not only handled the extremely challenging tests his administration faced in both the Valley and the Jammu region until September 2008, but also managed to conduct elections for a new state Assembly smoothly in November and December that year — a feat few had thought possible. The elections go off smoothly and there was a 70 percent turnout in the state.

Vohra’s administration was generally popular when Governor’s Rule was imposed again after the 2014 elections, when the BJP and the PDP took more than two months to negotiate their coalition, and after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s death in January 2016, when Mehbooba Mufti took three months to take over.

He personally inspected flood control arrangements and oversaw several other urgent tasks. He was about to call for panchayat elections when Governor's Rule ended. Those elections have still not been held.

File image of Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra. PTI

File image of Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra. PTI

Likely to continue

It seems likely that Vohra will continue in office after his second five-year term ends on 26 June. The Centre has been toying with the idea of continuing with him over the past several months. Vohra learnt the ropes regarding the state when he was the interlocutor for the Centre during the previous decade. He played a key role in bringing the Hurriyat Conference leaders to meet then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and then home minister LK Advani.

It is the only time when such high profile meetings have taken place. Not only that, but both sides seemed very positive about movement towards a solution. Vohra has held the posts of defence secretary, home secretary, and principal secretary to the prime minister during the 1990s. Early in his life, he has also been an armed forces man as a trainee cadet, but had to leave the Indian Air Force after a football injury. He also spent a couple of years handling intelligence at the beginning of his career as an IAS officer.

Vohra has been known as a hard taskmaster among those who have been in his staff at various times. He puts in an amazing amount of work even at the age of 84. He has also shown steely courage. While the state was under Governor’s Rule in 2008, he went to Baramulla, stood on the cement bridge which is notorious for stone-pelting, and interacted with young people. It is likely that he will continue in office until at least the end of the Amarnath Yatra, which begins on 28 June, and most likely beyond that too.

Skilful advisors

The two advisors who have been appointed to aid Vohra in carrying out his responsibilities also inspire confidence. They are well balanced: One is able to run the entire administration, and the other the security setup. BB Vyas was the chief secretary of the state until he was named advisor. During his career, he has handled most departments in the state, and knows every part of the state well.

In fact, over the past few years, he has held charge of several departments simultaneously; he was virtually running half the state government even before he became the chief secretary last year. A skilled handler of political bosses and subordinate officers alike, Vyas is known for deploying his diplomatic skills to get work done.

K Vijay Kumar, the other advisor to the governor, inspires awe among police and paramilitary forces, mainly for his role against the notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. His dominant personality will no doubt give him an edge in coordinating security forces in Jammu and Kashmir — which is a priority of the government at this stage. Kumar has been the director-general of the CRPF and has spent the past five years as a special secretary in the home ministry with responsibilities for internal security.

He has also been the inspector-general in charge of the BSF in the Valley during the most lethal period of militancy, from 1998 to 2001. Ajit Doval, the present national security advisor, had a hands-on role in the Valley for the IB around that time. These various roles and connections will give Kumar immense leverage to coordinate security forces. The CRPF is deployed in very large numbers in the Valley. It now has a prominent role in counterinsurgency operations, of the sort the BSF had when he commanded it in the Valley.


Updated Date: Jun 25, 2018 07:27 AM

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