Newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Girish Chandra Murmu said on Thursday, November 14 that elections for the assembly of the Union Territory will be held soon. Addressing the passing out parade of police at Talwara, Raesi in Jammu, Murmu said, "Union Territory of J&K has an assembly for which the election will be held soon. The process to hold the election has already begun." 

Girish Chandra Murmu
Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir: There will be elections in this Union Territory (UT) soon, as it is a UT with legislature. Image: @ANI/Twitter

This was the first public speech made by Murmu after assuming office as the first Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, a Union Territory now, on October 31. He also said he was hopeful that like Lok Sabha polls, people will also participate in the assembly polls. "You (police) will have an important role to play in upcoming elections," he added.  In a historic decision, the BJP government at Centre revoked Article 370 on August 5 and split Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs of J&K and Ladakh.

Filling political vacuum post Article 370

Unlike Ladakh, UT of J&K can elect a legislative assembly and a chief minister with the total strength of ministers not exceeding the 10 per cent of the total strength of the assembly. The Centre is grappling with the issue of filling the political vacuum after the move on Article 370. Most of the important political leaders of Kashmir like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are still in detention since August 5.

Indian Army
Indian security personnel stands guard in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.Reuters

Around 50 other leaders from different political parties are also under detention at Centaur Hotel which has been declared as a sub-jail. Efforts by the BJP to fill the political vacuum have so far not met with success. The Centre is in contact with leaders like Altaf Bukhari, Muzaffar Hussain Baig of the PDP, Usman Majeed of the Congress and others. The four leaders were recently invited on lunch hosted in honour of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) who visited Kashmir on October 29. The MEPs met several groups of people with little standing in public.

Two advisors appointed to assist Lt Governor 

MHA Letter
MHA appoints two advisors to assist the Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu 

The Ministry of Home Affairs approved the appointment of two advisors to Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu for assisting him in running the affairs of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The Union Home Ministry gave the green signal for the appointment of Kewal Kumar Sharma, former IAS officer and Farooq Ahmad Khan, ex-IPS officer, as advisors to the LG.

Both Sharma and Khan had served as advisors to former Governor Satya Pal Malik who was moved to Goa for completing the rest of the term as Governor after erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state was split and two separate union territories were carved. An IAS officer of 1983 batch, Sharma retired as the Secretary Higher Education in the Union ministry of Human Resources Development in February last year.

Sharma, who hails from Billawar area of Kathua in Jammu, is the topper of the 1980 batch of the Regional Engineering College, Srinagar. Farooq Ahmad Khan, an IPS officer of 1994 batch, was appointed as advisor to then J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik after being shifted from Lakshawdeep, where he served as administrator. He was instrumental in creation of the Special Task Force, J&K police's anti-militancy wing, in 1994-95 when the erstwhile State was under President's rule.

(With inputs from wires)