NN Vohra

 History, which has been dogged for repeating itself, tells us that the twin power-centres at Delhi and Srinagar were always in sync with each other. Days after the fall of erstwhile Congress Czar, the sync got repeated, when Mehbooba Mufti’s reluctance for power embrace pushed J&K into seventh governor rule. For the curiosity’s sake though, a different Narinder—unlike the one ruling from Delhi—became the default head of the state.

So, when Raj Bhavan received president of India’s concurrence, Governor Narinder Nath Vohra promptly issued a proclamation, declaring governor’s rule in J&K. But, for this Taurus of 1936, the experience was nothing new. Since succeeding S K Sinha eight years ago, Vohra—J&K’s first civilian governor in 18 years after Jagmohan, became third-time administrative head of the state.

This Oxford-returned bureaucrat serving Indian administration from 1959 to 1994 got his first plum posting when he became former PM I K Gujral’s principal secretary in 1997-98. Then, in Vajpayee’s government, he headed the National Task Force on internal security besides holding a series of official undertakings.

But Vohra’s Kashmir adventure began soon after he was appointed as interlocutor. Being an interlocutor, Vohra—a Padma Vibhushan awardee held extensive discussions with both unionists and separatists to chalk out his Kashmir’s roadmap. But more than an interlocutor, it was his appointment as J&K governor in simmering summer of 2008 that shot him to prominence.

In an apparent firefighting manoeuvre, Vohra’s first major decision being governor was to withdraw the controversial Amarnath shrine land transfer order. The stroke came from the man known for his keen security insight and highly explosive report—the NN Vohra Committee Report—on the criminalization of politics and criminal networks in India.

His latest tenure as J&K governor began rather on terse note. In a huff, he directed General Administration Department to recall the personal staff of all former PDP-BJP ministers besides setting deadline for Jhelum dredging and multi-agency security audit.

Already holding the governor’s office for last eight years—Vohra might not be Delhi’s ‘fire-fighter’ in Kashmir at the moment, but his present posting no way looks devoid of political pitfalls. With suspense over new government formation on, it would be interesting to see how Vohra—who began his bureaucratic career from the office of Central Intelligence Bureau—will manage the state of affairs in state, now.

-Riyaz Ul Khaliq


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