JAMMU, November 4: Amid tight security arrangements, the Civil Secretariat, which is the seat of Jammu and Kashmir government and other offices, reopened on Monday in Jammu after functioning for six months in Srinagar as part of the nearly 150-year-old practice locally known as ”Darbar Move”.
The bi-annual shift is the first after the state’s bifurcation into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh which came into existence on October 31.
Girish Chandra Murmu, who assumed office as the first Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on October 31 at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar, inspected the traditional guard of honour given to him by a police contingent at the civil secretariat lawns at sharp 9:30 am, marking the opening of offices here.
However, he skipped the customary press conference, a usual practice by the head of the administration in the erstwhile state, and instead began his official work at the secretariat.
The secretariat and other government offices in Srinagar closed on October 25-26 after functioning for six months. The other offices which resumed functioning in Jammu include Raj Bhavan and the police headquarters.
Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in strength in the city, especially on the roads leading to the Civil Secretariat as part of security measures to ensure the smooth functioning of the administration from Jammu.
The main road outside the secretariat was closed for civilian movement with barricades and heavy deployment of policemen. Only the civil secretariat employees are being allowed on the road after thorough checking.
The practice of ”Darbar Move”, under which the government functions from Jammu for six months during the winter and from Srinagar during the summer, was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872 to beat the extreme weather conditions of the region.
However, the practice was continued even after Independence with the aim of providing governance benefits to both Kashmir and Jammu regions for six months by turns.
While Jammu and Srinagar cities benefit from this practice as the roads and other infrastructure gets the basic minimum repairs done on an annual basis, the Darbar Move is an expensive practice.
The practice involves moving volumes of files between Jammu and Srinagar and thousands of employees between the two cities in hundreds of buses and trucks.
The employees who work in the move offices get almost two weeks of free holidays and compensatory allowances twice every year.
Several political parties have in the past demanded scrapping the practice and instead establishing permanent offices both at Jammu and Srinagar. (PTI)