He is in haste. The governor of JK state Satya Pal Malik has embarked himself on holy pursuit to dismantle every barricade, legal, constitutional or political that comes in way. Within a span of just two months of his taking control of the state, SPM took a slew of drastic changes in the realm of law, rules and procedures, that otherwise fall in the domain of elected representatives. With no urgency of the situation dictating immediate attention, much less interference, SPM amended Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council( LAHDC) Act 1992 to arm the Council with more powers at the cost of the provincial sovereignty of Kashmir province. The people of Kashmir are sensitive enough to understand the motivated intentions behind the creation of the Council and the present amendment. The governor’s amendment vested the Council, among other things, the power to levy taxes and exercise control on employees posted in the region. Next governor administration focused their antennae at was J&K Muslim Waqf Board Act which they amended.
The amended act provides that governor would be Chairman of the Board if he is a Muslim. If the governor is non-Muslim, then amendment empowers him to nominate a Muslin to head the Board. All the governors sent by Delhi so far have been non-Muslims. It is a calculated design to take indirectly control of the sensitive Muslim institutions by non-Muslim governor. Then followed the amendment made in the Constitution of State Advisory Council for Higher Education and State Skilled Development. That paved way for governor to hold reins of these institutions himself, edging out chief minister of the state.
The latest is the creation of divisional status to Ladakh and Kargil region. Democracy as they say is reflection of peoples’ collective will which is expressed through elected representatives of the people. By overstepping his jurisdiction, governor is destroying whatever is left of the shriveled pale structure of democracy. Granting separate divisional status to any area of the state including Ladakh comes under the powers and jurisdiction of a political authority in place and in and broader consultation and in full appreciation of the information available on various indices of growth and development.
Governor Sahib, in defence of his decision, said it was the longstanding demand of the people of the region and also of the fact that the region is poorly developed. Still he cannot do what is beyond his authority. Now for argument’s sake, let us assume poor development of the region and its geographical constraints made him impatient to do he did.
If that is the motive, then governor’s approach in addressing such kind of demands have to be fairly judicious and without any malafide intentions. On what basis, one can ask, Chenab Valley and Pir Panchal region have been denied of their due? If underdevelopment and topographic impediments be the criteria, then the very two regions are entitled to their respective Autonomous Hill Development Councils with same executive powers as delegated to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. But Delhi has always answered in callous indifference to such demands. How can governor and the State Administrative Council, he heads, explain the brazen disparity in equitable distribution of state resources and development witnessed among the units of the same region Jammu . Why Jammu is perched atop the development index of the state, while as Doda, Kishtawar, Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri are groping at the bottom end, though all are in the same region.
For the twin districts of Leh and Kargil, you have declared Leh as headquarter, ignoring not only the development index of the Kargil district but also the fact that while Kargil is at 230 kilometers distance from Leh, the distance from Srinagar to Kargil is 120 kilometers? Why would the people of Kargil concede to be part of the new headquarter when Srinagar is nearer by half? And the people of Kargil have made it clear that they will ‘prefer to remain with Kashmir division if divisional headquarter will remain in Leh’. They are demanding for making the divisional office rotational like the Darbar Move between Srinagar and Jammu. The protest for the demand are intensifying and elected leaders of Kargil in Panchayat, municipal communities and LAHDC (Kargil) have threatened to resign en-mass if government does not modify the order. At the same time the governor’s decision to create Ladakh division have fuelled anger and resentment in regions like Chenab and Pir Panchal where people have threatened to launch agitation if similar administrative units for the regions were not created.
The all-important question is how can governor administration empower a unit of the state exclusively in disregard to the concerns, reservations and objections– or to the detriment– of its other units? Is this not a step towards dividing state of JK and create a state within a state? Already the communalist and divisive forces have hailed the decision as a step towards union territory status for Ladakh. And never be mistaken, when Kashmir comes, both BJP and Congress sup from the same trough and fawn each other. The seeds of division of the state were sown by the government in Delhi in 1993 by taking decision regarding creation of LAHD Council, which was implemented by then governor in 1995. No one is against the devolution of power to regions and provinces but in absence of political authority the move speaks of a design and in violation of norms of democracy.
Now if empowerment and justice giving is, as is portrayed, the driving force behind the smart move, what restrains you from fulfilling demands of not only Kargil people but, in equal urgency, those from the people of Chenab and Pir Panchal– the Muslim majority areas of Jammu. And why Dogras in Jammu are welcoming the governor’s latest decision of giving divisional status to Ladakh but opposing granting the same to the neglected and discriminated twin regions of Jammu?
Tailpiece: For whatever else we may disagree with him, SP Malik is not a hypocrite. He says honestly that he is two-in-one, the governor and the chief minister – accountable only to Delhi!