Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday, April 10, sanctioned the formal opening of Annual Darbar Move Offices in Srinagar  The formal opening of annual darbar offices for the summer session 2020 in Srinagar is commenced to begin on May 4.

The order released by the General Administration Dept, Civil Secretariat, Jammu stated that the employees shall work on "as is where is" basis— Kashmir based staff shall work from Srinagar and Jammu based staff shall work from Jammu.

Civil secretariat building in Srinagar. File image.
Civil secretariat building in Srinagar. File image.

According to an ordered issued by the GAD department, the Darbar Move offices for the Summer Session-2020 will open at Srinagar on 4 May at 9:30 am. However, in view of the "extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19 Pandemic", the government has made arrangements to ensure the "transaction of the Government business effectively".

annual darbar

Among others, the government has ordered that the Civil Secretariat at Jammu shall continue to remain functional and the move employees shall work on "as is where is" basis i.e. Kashmir based staff shall work from Srinagar and Jammu based staff shall work from Jammu.

'Just mindless rubbish at worst': Omar Abdullah slams move 

Slamming the bi-annual Darbar move, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, "This order regarding the bi-annual "durbar move" is just mindless rubbish at worst & needless tokenism at best. So the offices can't shift to Srinagar because of #Covid_19, I get that. What I don't get is what Srinagar secretariat will do without files or senior officers?"

The leader further tweeted, "Most of the Kashmir based employees are in Jammu since the secretariat was functioning in Jammu over the winter so who will operate out of the Srinagar secretariat? If Srinagar Secretariat has no employees, no officers & no files what is it being opened for?"

omar abdullah tweet

"This order of two "functioning secretariats" will just create confusion because no one will know which secretariat to approach to get their work done. It would be better to withdraw this order & just delay the move of offices till the #Covid_19 threat has passed." 

This is not the first time the former CM has slammed Darbar move. Previously, Omar Abdullah has described Darbar Move as wastage of money and advocated for South African model of capitals for Jammu and Kashmir.

India Today reported the former CM stating, "Do I think the "Durbar move" is a waste of money? Yes, I do. Is there an alternative? I haven't seen a viable alternative suggested," Omar said.

 Civil Secretariat to remain functional in Jammu & Srinagar

Kashmir snowfall

"The move offices outside the Civil Secretariat shall also continue to remain functional at Jammu/Srinagar, as per the mechanism at 1 above (as is where is" basis." Administrative Secretaries have been asked to make necessary arrangements to ensure the functionality in their respective departments, both at Srinagar and Jammu. "Similar arrangements shall be put in place by the Heads of the Departments observing Darbar Move."

The Civil Secretariat Treasury and J&K Bank Moving Branch at Civil Secretariat shall be functional at both the places within the Civil Secretariat—Jammu and Srinagar. "The Finance Department shall put in place suitable mechanism for the purpose," the order stated. 

The dispensary of the Civil Secretariat shall remain functional at both the places within the Civil Secretariat and Health & Medical Education Department has been asked to put in place suitable mechanism for the purpose.

"The move based employees of Kashmir Division, who are required to move Srinagar on account of Darbar Move, on April 25/ 26, 2020, shall be provided transport facility by the JKRTC. Such employees shall provide their particulars to the General Administration Department for issuance of appropriate passes, if required, for movement on National Highway," it added.

About Annual Darbar Move

The 107-year-old tradition of half-yearly shuttling of the seat of governance between the summer and winter capitals in Jammu and Kashmir is called the Annual Darbar Move. 

Following a practice set up by the autocratic Dogra Maharajas of the state, all top offices including those of the Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers, senior bureaucrats and others shuttle on a six-monthly basis between the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar.

Even after the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on October 31, the government decided to continue the tradition of Darbar Move.