News reports have said that Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra is likely to be replaced by the Centre.
This possible replacement comes at a time when Jammu and Kashmir is on the boil due to violent protests over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July. The unrest has rocked the Valley, while the state has been under curfew for over 50 days now. Reports have claimed more than 70 civilians have been killed, which over 1,000 were injured.
The discussion to replace Vohra began on 25 August when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Kashmir for the second time and met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Vohra served in the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) between 1959 and 1994. He has also served as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister from 1997 to 1998. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2007. He is also the first civilian governor of the state after Jagmohan since militancy broke out in the state in 1989.
Vohra was appointed as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in 2008 and was re-appointed for a second term in 2013.
According to News18, three retired generals and two former governors are being considered for the job by the government.
The report also said that even though the Centre acknowledged Vohra’s work for Jammu and Kashmir, it felt that the state needed a new strategy to control the tense situation in the state. While appointing a retired General could show that the Centre will not relent to pressure due to the protests, a civilian being appointed as Governor could mean the launch of a fresh outreach plan.
It will also be interesting to see whether the Centre, in keeping with its recent trend, appoints a BJP leader as Jammu and Kashmir Governor. Just to refresh the memory – Kiran Bedi is Puducherry Governor and Najma Heptullah bagged the job in Manipur.
In fact, one of the top names in contention is that of 81-year-old BJP leader Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, who took part in the freedom struggle in his student days, News18 reported. He served as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand twice (from 2007 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2012). He was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and is presently an MP from Garhwal.
Known for kicking off the Golden Quadrilateral project during Vajpayee’s term, Khanduri remains the best bet, however, the fact that he is 81, could ruin his chances.
However, Indian Express reported that former home secretary Anil Baijal could also be considered for the position. Baijal was earlier in the executive council of a think tank Vivekananda International Foundation. Vivekananda Foundation is a Sangh Parivar-affiliated think tank Several former members of the thinktank have been appointed to senior posts by the Centre.
News18 further reported that Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retired), who has served as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, is also a likely successor. The report further added that Hasnain has first-hand knowledge of the state’s security issues. Incidentally, Hasnain was also part of the VIF thinktank. Having served in Kashmir, The Asian Age quoted sources, Lt Gen Hasnain knows Kashmir’s security issues and how to handle them.
Another contender is General Ved Prakash Malik (Retired) who was the Army Chief during the Kargil war. He oversaw the planning and implementation of Operation Vijay which foiled Pakistan’s attempt of intrusion in the Kargil sector in 1999.
Other names being considered are that of 74-year-old Amolak Rathan Kohli, who was former Mizoram Governor and a close aide of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani; and Vijai Kapoor, former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
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