Srinagar: Jammu & Kashmir may not have a chief minister but it has ended up having four ministers — for home, power, revenue, social welfare etc — so to speak.
According to an order issued by the general administration department, K.K. Sharma, Farooq Khan, Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar and Baseer Ahmed Khan will be exercising powers “in respect to the departments allocated to them”.
Bhatnagar, who retired as director general of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in December, will advise the lieutenant governor on significant matters relating to the home department.
The order states he will “coordinate activities of the police, sports, animal husbandry, technical education… terror monitoring group, force deployment, intelligence work, preparedness for law & order, operational effectiveness, counter crossborder propaganda, jails, FSL (forensic science laboratory), prosecution, narcotics control and POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) matters”.
Bhatnagar was appointed as an adviser in January, months after Murmu took office as lieutenant governor last October, when J&K’s new status as a union territory kicked in. Baseer was appointed to the post last week.
Baseer, the former divisional commissioner of the Kashmir province, has been allocated “power development, rural development & management, relief, rehabilitation & construction, culture, tourism and floriculture”.
Leaders remain detained
Retired IAS officer Sharma and former IPS officer Farooq Khan had served as advisers to Governor Satyapal Malik and were reappointed to the post under Murmu. While Sharma oversees revenue, industries and commerce, and school and higher education, Farooq Khan handles social welfare, tribal affairs, food and civil supplies, elections, and Haj.
The order further stated that papers related to the General Administration Department, Home Department, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and All India Services (IAS, IPS and IFS) shall be submitted by the respective administrative secretaries through chief secretary to the lieutenant governor.
Among the series of changes introduced by the central government on 5 August, when J&K was stripped of its special status, was its bifurcation and recategorisation as two union territories — Jammu & Kashmir being one and Ladakh the other.
While Ladakh won’t have a legislature, J&K will be a union territory with an assembly and a chief minister like Delhi and Puducherry. However, several of the Valley’s mainstream leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, remain in detention since August and the union territory’s first election is yet to be announced.
Jammu & Kashmir has not had a chief minister since mid-2018, when a split in the BJP-PDP alliance caused the government to collapse and led the erstwhile state into central rule.