“I recently went to Jammu and saw people, especially traders, crying.”

SRINAGAR — The businesses in Jammu have been affected badly after the 149-year-old bi-annual tradition of shifting the offices between the twin capitals — Srinagar and Jammu — ‘Darbar move’ came to an end this year in the month of June.

The LG government had announced that the J&K government has fully transitioned to an e-office, thereby ending the tradition of Darbar Move.

The government justified the move by claiming that putting an end to the practice will save the government Rupees 200 crore per year and the money will be used for the welfare of the deprived sections.

Terming the claims of the government as farce, both the traders in Jammu and the employees, are unhappy with the decision.

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A government employee wishing anonymity said that the government has created a whole mess all around by putting an end to Darbar Move, within the departments and outside it.

“I recently went to Jammu and saw people, especially traders, crying. My friend based in Jammu hugged me and cried saying that they are left with no work after the Darbar Move ended,” he said. 

Many traders in Jammu said that they are literally out of business. “We do not have money or work,” they said.

The move has forced the closure of small businesses whose main customers were Kashmiri, said a trader.

Vivek Mahajan, a trader based in Raghunath Bazar said that Darbar Move was the backbone of the economy in Jammu. “The sales would pick up with the migration of 10,000 employees from Kashmir.”

Four months after canceling the Darbar move, the J&K government modified its order and restored the accommodation for its employees at Jammu after it sensed that the people in Jammu were agitated with the decision “Some chose to stay back in Srinagar like I did and some shifted to Jammu,” the employee said.

Sources in the administration said that the authorities did it without the official order because if the official order would have been issued, the administration had to pay the allowances to more than 25000 employees.

“Whatever the decisions people in power make, they make it for the benefits of the common people, but here it is the common man who is suffering,” said another employee. “After cancelling the tradition, the government made a lot of claims but the reality is far from the official claims,” he added.

The traders and transporters in Jammu resented the decision saying that besides developing a bond between the people of the two regions, the practice gave a big boost to the economy of Jammu as well, and putting an end to it will have economic fallouts on the people of the two regions, particularly the traders of Jammu.

While the BJP welcomed the move, most of the other political parties in the region opposed the decision saying that stopping the practice of Darbar Move would impact social, cultural, and economic connectivity between the two regions and will increase the gap between the two.

Reacting to the government’s decision, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, had termed the decision ‘insensitive’. “Such insensitive decisions are taken by those who care least for J&K’s welfare,” she had said.

National Conference, vice-president, Omar Abdullah also criticised the J&K government’s order of keeping the offices functional in both regions and said that it would create a commotion among the people.

There are around 10,000 employees working in the Civil Secretariat, who used to shift twice a year along with hundreds of files. According to various reports the Darbar move has its roots in the Mughal rule.

Mughal emperor, Jehangir, frequently visited Kashmir, it fundamentally became the capital of his Empire. This pattern was subsequently followed by the British and Dogra rulers.

After that, the tradition of shifting the capital is believed to have started in 1872 by Dogra monarch Maharaja Gulab Singh and was continued by the political class of J&K after 1947.

“The government initially said that they are completely putting an end to the practice, but now if we see 70% of the offices have been shifted to Jammu,” said Arun Gupta, president of Chamber of Commerce and Industries.  

“There are a few areas in which businesses might have got affected but as of now no trader has approached me with the same grievance,” Gupta said. 

He said that they are assessing the whole situation in a couple of days as the marriage season recently ended in Jammu, if they find that the business has got hampered at any level, they would start acting upon it. 

“We will talk to the government after the assessment and if required, we will agitate,” he added.

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