As the Jammu and Kashmir government gets ready to shift its base here from Srinagar next week, security in the state’s winter capital has been beefed up for a smooth functioning of the administration for the winter months, officials said.
The Civil Secretariat, Raj Bhawan and other major offices alternate between the two capitals every six months, functioning from Srinagar in the summer months and from Jammu in winter, as part of a pre-Independence practice called the ‘Darbar Move’.
The Civil Secretariat – the seat of the Jammu and Kashmir government – and other Darbar Move offices closed in the summer capital on October 27 and are scheduled to reopen in the winter capital of Jammu on November 6.
“The best possible security system has been put in place to ensure the smooth functioning of the government from here,” Inspector General of Police, Jammu, S D Singh Jamwal, told PTI.
He said adequate security arrangements have been made in and around the civil secretariat, Raj Bhawan and other key centres besides the areas where the ministers, legislators and employees involved in the transfer will stay.
The practice of the Darbar Move was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872 to escape the heat of Jammu in the summer and biting cold of winter in Srinagar. Elected governments after independence carried on with the tradition. As part of the security arrangements, road opening parties have been deployed from Banihal, the gateway to Jammu from Kashmir along the Jammu-Srinagar National highway – the only all-weather road linking the Valley with rest of the country.
Traffic on the highway was restricted to a one-way stream from Srinagar to Jammu on October 28 and 29. The restrictions will be in force again on November 4 and 5 to ensure the free movement of vehicles carrying government employees and official records to Jammu, the police chief said.
The IGP said closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at important installations and thoroughfares including the secretariat had been made operational and a plan devised to deal with frequent traffic jams on the roads. The city is also being decked up for the reopening of the civil secretariat.
The secretariat and other offices have been renovated and roads macadamised or repaired over the past several weeks. Street lights have been restored and workers can be seen cleaning pathways and painting the roadsides. “The work is almost complete and we are ready to welcome the government and the move employees,” Deputy Director Estates, Jammu, Satish Sharma said.
He said adequate provisions for water, power and sanitation were being made at all residential quarters. “Since work is still in progress, we do not have the exact figures of the money spent so far,” he said.
The state government spends crores of rupees every year to move voluminous records every six months, besides paying a similar amount as allowances for the several thousand employees who shift base with the government.
There have been demands from various quarters to abolish the practice and set up permanent civil secretariats in Jammu and Srinagar. This would save the government a substantial amount of public money as well as enable people to have their problems redressed around the year, many have argued.