Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik has found himself in the eye of a storm after his statement on Sunday urging militants to target "those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir for years". Malik's remark attracted censure from several quarters, with the state's former chief minister Omar Abdullah saying that the governor "should find out about his own reputation in Delhi these days before sanctioning unlawful killings and kangaroo courts".
Malik, however, is no stranger to controversies. He has in the past been the subject of several unsavoury headlines about his statements, actions and even his fax machine.
That last imbroglio took place in November 2018, when PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti sent an official communique to the Raj Bhawan via fax staking claim to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir. She also claimed to have support from the Congress and National Conference in her bid.
However, the fax was not received by the governor's office, Mufti said. Nevertheless, Malik dissolved the state Assembly shortly thereafter, and Omar Abdullah quipped that Malik apparently had a one-way fax machine which could send the governor's recommendation to Delhi, but failed to receive Mehbooba's letter.
The failed bid to form the government soon became fodder for memes, and among the prominent people taking a dig at the fax machine were Abdullah and Mufti.
Meanwhile those awaiting a response. pic.twitter.com/Q4OM7rFfvB
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) November 21, 2018
Malik had 'named' Srinagar mayor before the end of the poll process
Shortly before the controversy over the fax machine, in October 2018, Malik had raised eyebrows when he named the person who would be the mayor of Srinagar, even before the civic polls got over. He was quoted as saying by NDTV that as per his information, Srinagar would get a new mayor who is a foreign-educated young person and if this leader emerges, both parties (a reference to the PDP and NC) are jittery. (sic)."
He further said that the person's name is "Mattoo" and remarked, "The day he becomes mayor, he will be better than (National Conference leader) Farooq (Abdullah) saab in that time. He will get more respect." As it turned out, former National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattu, who quit the party to contest the urban local body polls in Jammu and Kashmir, was elected as the mayor. He was supported by the BJP and Peoples Conference.
At the time, the NC had deplored Malik's statement, and The Asian Age quoted a statement by the party as saying that the remarks had cast a shadow over the election process. “It seems that the mayor for Srinagar city has already been selected even before the elections are over,” the statement read.
PDP, NC had accused Jammu and Kashmir governor of 'taking sides brazenly'
In February 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir governor had rejected Mehbooba Mufti's demand for action against an army officer accused of torturing and threatening a civilian, saying she didn't need to be taken seriously and he stood by the security forces.
Objecting to his remarks, the PDP and the National Conference had accused the governor of "taking sides brazenly" and "unnecessary interference in politics", respectively.
In response, Malik had said, "Is the Governor's House only meant for playing golf all the time? The Governor's House is the representative of the President and there is the President's government in New Delhi. I represent that government and I have to put forth its viewpoint."
Similarly, several decisions taken by the State Administrative Council, headed by Malik were described as "motivated" by regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir. One of these decisions, as reported by The Hindu, was to bar the State Human Rights Commission from probing any complaint of a human rights violation which was submitted one year after the alleged incident. The administration's decision to change and ease” procedures for issuing Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) had also come under fire. The certificate is issued to domicile citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.
Malik's political background may affect his image in state
Malik was the first career politician to be chosen for the position of the governor of Jammu and Kashmir in the last 51 years, and his appointment had indicated a change in the strategy of the Centre which had earlier relied on ex-babus to run the show in the troubled state. Malik had earlier been a member of the Congress and the VP Singh-led Janata Dal, and later joined the BJP in 2004.
As this article by David Devadas from August 2018 had pointed out, the appointment of the BJP's Malik as the state's governor may have been seen as 'political and ideological signalling' by people in Kashmir.
"Association with the BJP and RSS was a key reason why the previous PDP-led government became so unpopular. That sort of perception of the state government may return," the article had then argued.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 22, 2019 20:31:35 IST