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Durbar resumes in a peaceful Srinagar for six months

As durbar resumes functioning in Srinagar for the six-month stint, Kashmir is cool and normal.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 07, 2012, 06.30 PM IST
SRINAGAR: As durbar resumes functioning in Srinagar for the six-month stint, 140th time since the practice was introduced by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872, Kashmir is cool and normal. For the first time in many years, no political party called for a symbolic strike. As a long cavalcade drove Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to the secretariat to took salute at the ceremonial march past and addressed the media, it looked so normal.

Twice in a year, the medulla of the government – the civil secretariat is nowhere for around 10 days as the trucks drive files and computers from one capital to another.

Omar made his dissatisfaction over the tradition public last month. He would suggest using the South African model – Bloemfontein is the judicial capital, Cape Town is the legislative capital, and Pretoria is the administrative capital, but who will support the idea.

“We run away when people need us most and face the most difficulty,” he wrote on twitter. Last time it was Rajiv Gandhi who suggested Dr Farooq to reverse the trend - in Kashmir in winter and in Jammu for summer. It did not help. The durbar move has both the facets.

My government, Omar said, will facilitate the forward movement on Kashmir on its external and internal dimensions. He talked about continuation of the developmental activities, and holding the elections for the urban local bodies this year at all costs. Omar acknowledged that the emergence of a “new political leadership” at the ground level that, he said, has to be harmonized. He is content with the AFSPA debate that his interventions have triggered in Delhi at political and operational levels.

But people in Kashmir are aware of the stand that the ruling NC has on the critical issues concerning J&K. Omar assertions are unlikely to trigger any debate here. But what is generating interest are the issues of governance.

Traffic mess, for instance, is a key issue for Srinagar. As king-sized Volvo’s bring in tourists to the city, they choke the lane-sized roads that have remained unchanged for last 30 years. Since durbar moves with countless cavalcades, movement in the uptown Srinagar is a daytime chaos.

But a state that has police as its biggest appendage has traditionally skipped offering recruits to man the traffic. But last week, the traffic police started re-installing the traffic lights and the plans are to cover 30 congested spots in the first place. As South African technicians started installing the lights, it triggered traffic jams at most of the places. “I jumped my first red light in Srinagar yesterday,” was the first facebook response of an engineer!

Last month, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation finally started sterilizing the pariah dogs. Srinagar alone has nearly one hundred thousand dogs and it has created a crisis as thousands of people are bitten a year. The dog culling triggers fierce reaction from the animal lovers. Finally the judicial intervention led to the start of sterilization and if pursued it will add up another Rs 1000 crore to the whopping requirements of the state government.

Most of the governing belts in Srinagar are white-washed. For the last fortnight, labourers worked round the clock dusting walls on the Moulana Azad Road, unclogging the uptown drains and installed brand new lights on most of the twin vital roads that make Lal Chowk. Most of the Jhelum banks are illuminated and a few days back a symbolic ferry service was launched between two city destinations.

But most of the old city seems living on the other side of the ‘time machine’. Nothing much could happen on development front for three consecutive summers till 2010. Once peace resume, all the roads were dug-up for relaying the drains. It blocked movement in most of the areas.

The main road to Kashmir’s only tertiary care hospital remained blocked for six long months. Now when the bulldozers appear in localities, it triggers protests. People do not want any development that com at the cost of damages to the existing basic facilities.

Unlike past, there is nothing substantial that could trigger a crisis. Tourists are coming, markets are booming, people are busy with their routine. Separatists, at least the moderates, are preoccupied with their issues within. It all depends how the government handles the status quo. Usually the stupidities and summers have come together and mostly from the secretariat. Everybody hopes, let it not happen this year.
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