Governor Vohra at The Helm After Mufti’s Demise


Srinagar: Jammu & Kashmir Governor NN Vohra, who is currently ruling the state after the death of Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, has turned out to be one of the most successful but silent crisis managers for New Delhi in this tumultuous state.

Governor’s rule was imposed in J&K — third time under Vohra — on January 8 this year, after Mufti Muhammad Sayeed passed away in Delhi on January 7 while in office. Vohra had been on the job ever since, clearing several files held up in the CM’s office and ordering a security review of all the sensitive installations in the state.

“He has always managed the crisis well for New Delhi,” a senior bureaucrat told media preferring anonymity. The 79-year-old Vohra is the only UPA-appointed Governor who has not been removed, or asked to resign, by the BJP led NDA government which came to power in May 2014.

Vohra, a successful bureaucrat, who has served the Government of India in different capacities for more than 55 years since 1959, knows J&K well and has expanded his friendship beyond political and bureaucratic circles of the state. Vohra was the government’s interlocutor in Kashmir from 2003 to 2008, and had met and discussed issues with people from all shades of the political spectrum, including some pro-freedom leaders. While he strongly advocates dialogue with the separatists, he has mostly stayed silent on the issue in recent times. “He knows his job well and keeps track of the functioning of the chief minister and that of his gardener as well,” a Raj Bhawan employee told ET.

Vohra took over the reins of the state from his predecessor SK Sinha in 2008 in turbulent times; people were seething in anger then in the wake of the land transfer to Amarnath Shrine Board, headed by the Governor. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) broke its alliance with Congress and Governor’s rule was imposed for around 174 days. More than 60 people were killed during that period, which was followed by massive participation in the 2008 Assembly elections. BJP had then criticised Vohra severely. In 2015, when PDP-BJP took two months to forge an alliance, Governor’s rule was again imposed in the state.

Vohra, who had studied in Punjab and Oxford universities, is the nephew of India’s famous freedom fighter, Sukhdev, who was hanged by the British along with Bhagat Singh and Raj Guru. When he was hanged, the British terminated the services of all his family members who were working with the government, including his father, who worked with the Survey of India and was posted in Kabul at that time.

According to Raj Bhawan insiders, Vohra remains in touch with all stakeholders and writes to the chief minister and relevant ministries in Delhi on different issues concerning the state. Last year, he had even written a detailed note to the home ministry, expressing concern over the use of weapons and subsequent civilian deaths during the protests. After PDP-BJP coalition was formed last year, he separately called senior PDP and BJP ministers to his office, advising them on how to run the government and ‘not behave like constituency MLA’s’, said people aware of the matter. Vohra has served as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister IK Gujral in 1997-98 and was a member of National Security Advisory Board from 1998 to 2001 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government.