First time in 144 years, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has decided to halt the annual shifting of capital, called ‘Darbar Move’, from Jammu to Srinagar due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as 23 fresh positive cases pushed the total in the Union Territory to 207.
“In view of the extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Civil Secretariat at Jammu shall continue to remain functional and the ‘Darbar Move’ employees shall work on ‘as is where is’ basis. It will allow Kashmir-based staff to work from Srinagar and Jammu-based staff shall work from Jammu,” said an order issued by the General Administration Department in Jammu.
Introduced by Dogra monarch Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872, the Darbar Move would see shifting of the Civil Secretariat in summers from Jammu to Srinagar and in winters from Srinagar to Jammu. In January 1987, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had asked the then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to stop the practice. However, the Darbar Move was continued to allow it to act as a bridge between two diverse cultures of the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region.
However, the COVID-19 has halted this practice and the shifting of the capital may not take place in May this year. “Employees of the Kashmir Division, who are required to move to Srinagar on account of Darbar Move on April 25-26 will be provided transport facility,” said the order. However, no Jammu-based employees will travel to Kashmir this summer.
Meanwhile, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has been directed to carry out extensive sanitation and fumigation drives in the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar, where the offices will open after six month break on May 4.
23 test positive
The administration’s decision to halt the Darbar Move comes as COVID-19 cases showed an upward trend. J&K on Friday crossed the 200 mark, with 23 more samples testing positive.
“The total positive cases in J&K is 207, as 23 more cases were reported. Jammu has 39 and Kashmir 168 such cases,” said government spokesperson Rohit Kansal.
Among the fresh cases are seven non-local members of the Tabligi Jamaat, who were in touch with a Chattabal man who has already tested positive for COVID-19.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, said detection of eight more positive cases in Srinagar should not panic locals. “This is a classic tracing success story,” he said.