Absconding In Winter, Durbar Returns To Savour Kashmir Spring

Absconding In Winter, Durbar Returns To Savour Kashmir Spring

6 May 2012
Kashmir Observer
Asif Rizvi

Srinagar: With new coats of paint on sidewalks and fancy lampposts Srinagar is all set to accord a colourful welcome to the government durbar on Monday as a reward for having been missing in severe winter. The durbar, however, will open to locked down offices as its employees begin their agitation for pay arrears, and faces the threat of gherao and a ‘spectacular showdown’ as warned by union leaders. The mammoth task of carting the entire government from Jammu, the state’s winter capital, to the more salubrious climes of Kashmir - a relic of Dogra rule - has taken nearly ten days, and crores of rupees, and was carried out in tight security involving elaborate military apparatus. The already chaotic and dusty traffic of Srinagar will turn more agonizing as hordes of ministers and officers with their long security escorts zoom to and from their luxurious residences, claiming the right of way from exasperated motorists and passengers. Security has already been tightened across the city to pre-empt any attempts by militants to show their presence. Forces, holding automatic weapons and wearing bullet proof jackets, have been deployed in and around the civil secretariat, which houses the office of the chief minister Omar Abdullah, his cabinet colleagues and top bureaucrats. Sharp shooters have been deployed on top of the civil secretariat, keeping a close watch on traffic and pedestrian movement in and around the seat of government. In the 90s, militants attacked civil secretariat with rifle grenades and fired rockets. Though police claimed that there is no active militant left in Srinagar, but security forces have been asked to remain on high. However, the police said some militants are infiltrating into city from outskirts and later left after striking here. Official sources said additional security forces would be deployed on both sides of the routes, leading to civil secretariat from tomorrow morning. The traffic department has also put up road diversion at several places to make sure the vehicles carrying ministers and bureaucrats move freely to civil secretariat. The durbar, seat of the government, including the office of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his cabinet colleagues and top bureaucrats, was closed at Jammu on April 27 to reopen here tomorrow. Employees from the Kashmir valley returned here on April 28 and 29. The chief minister had described this exercise as a waste of money and time as the offices remained closed for a week at the time of move. However, he said, there was also no alternative available to change the shifting of durbar. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country with two capitals.