Srinagar: A 6 year old kid, Hamzah, is supposed to wake up at 5.30 am in the morning so that he is able to make it to the school on time.
Reason: A century-old practice called Darbar Move, when the offices of Jammu & Kashmir are shifted from Jammu to Srinagar and Srinagar to Jammu in Summer and Winter respectively.
“Our children do not get the proper rest because they are in a rat race. Unfortunately, the authorities put themselves ahead of these little kids. Just to ensure that the VIPs travel with ease, everything including school timings have been changed in Srinagar,” said Tariq Ahmad, a local here.
The sluggish authorities in Kashmir have suddenly gained momentum, which is usual around this particular season of the year. While the locals suffer during the winters, ride and drive on un-walkable roads and live with the false promises made by the governments, the arrival of Darbari ‘VIPs’ changes the scenario.
The morning of eighth of May in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, was different for the residents. The roads looked clean and decorated, no Parking Zones were clear and the intervals at which the Central Reserved Police Force is placed was shortened.
“We have been ordered to stay here and to provide security to the officials who have come with the Darbar Move,” said a CRPF jawan standing next to another fellow Jawan near the Secretariat.
Mohammad Ashraf, a shopkeeper who has been selling groceries for 30 years in the same area told Free Press Kashmir that the the sudden changes are but expected.
“I am here all day long. For past 30 years, I have witnessed this change that whenever it’s time for the Darbar Move, the authorities here start to work. Till then they are sleeping. They go to Jammu for their own comfort, leaving us all miserable here,” said Ashraf.
So, a common question in minds of Kashmiris around the summer season is: Is this the government for the people or people for the government?
The practice of Darbar Move was started in the late 19th century by Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The offices were shifted from Srinagar to Jammu and vice-versa so that official work stays unhampered during the harsh winters.
Chief Enforcement Officer, SMC Manzoor Ahmad said, “At the time of Darbar Move, we have to decorate the city and prioritise the things that need to be done for it.” Asked as to why the city is not so clean before the Move, he said that the Move brings accountability with it.
“With Darbar comes more accountability. Tourists also come here. So, we ought to do it,” he added.
“In September, we will do it again. The weather conditions play the major role in developing the city. It’s just that around this time, the weather conditions are fit for us to work. In fact, we keep doing it 2-3 times in the summer.
Asked if his statements inferred that the government neglects the locals and manages to take care of the VIPs only, Manzoor said, “It not that. See, when there is time of celebration like Eid or something, even in our homes, we clean more before that day,” he said.
Moreover, state’s BJP spokesperson Virender Gupta recently stated that the practice of ‘Darbar move’ should be abandoned and that there should be bifurcation of the state offices.
He also had specified that due to the advancement in the electronic communication, air journey and better road facilities, this practice was abandoned in parts of India, whereas it still continues in Jammu and Kashmir.