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For first time in 148 years, Jammu & Kashmir delays Darbar Move




Jammu-Srinagar highway wears a deserted look during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus | PTI
Jammu-Srinagar highway wears a deserted look during the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus | PTI

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Srinagar: The 148-year-old Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) tradition of moving the capital of the region twice a year — from Srinagar to Jammu during the winter and back to Jammu in the summer — has been postponed for the first time in its history. The exercise, called the Darbar Move, is being delayed in view of the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to an order issued by the J&K administration Friday afternoon, the Darbar will open in Srinagar on 15 June as opposed to its scheduled opening in the first week of May.

“It has been observed that the formal opening of the Darbar on 04.05.2020, as ordered vide government order no. 464-JK (GAD) of 2020 dated 10/04/2020, may affect the Covid-19 control efforts in the Union Territory,” read the order issued by the General Administration Department of J&K government.

The order further reads, “The formal opening of the Darbar at Srinagar will take place on 15.06.2020. All officers assigned specific Covid-19 control tasks shall continue to function from their present location till further orders, so as to ensure Covid-19 control effects and not hampers on account of physical dislocation of officers.”

It added that the Civil Secretariat at Srinagar shall start functioning on 4 May with the staff and officers on an “as is where is” basis, i.e., staff will continue working where they are based.

J&K has so far recorded 314 cases of infection, including 276 active cases. Of these, 54 are in Jammu and 260 in Kashmir. Five patients have died while 38 patients have recovered.

Also read: J&K’s 77 ‘red zones’ under increased Covid-19 surveillance, real-time tracking on

Change in capital

The practice of ‘Darbar Move’ was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872 to escape the extreme weather conditions in the two regions. When the capital shifts, so does the civil secretariat, important subsidiary offices, files and government documents, and the assembly.

Official documents and other equipment are packed in hundreds of bundles, cartons and metallic trunks, and loaded into more than 200 trucks to transport them for the over 300 km distance between Jammu and Srinagar.

Last week the administration ordered the Move offices to reopen in Srinagar on 4 May, but also kept the civil secretariat in Jammu functional.

It also ordered that only employees of the Kashmir Division, who are required to move to Srinagar on account of the Darbar Move, would be transported while employees of the Jammu division will work on an ‘as is where is’ basis.

The move had drawn criticism, with many questioning the government’s decision to undertake the mass shifting during the pandemic. Since last week’s order did not specify a date on which the civil secretariat would become operational in Srinagar, several also saw it as a move to shift the capital of the union territory to Jammu permanently.

Subsequently, a petition was filed in the J&K High Court seeking a judicial intervention in the matter. The court sought details of the last four Darbar Moves, including security arrangements and the expenditure. The expense incurred would include transportation and accommodation of government employees as well financial benefits given to employees such as move allowance.

The court sought the details in order for “a considered view to be taken”, such as impact on the necessary resources and the personnel involved (positions and number).

Also read: The male, female and pollen behind J&K order to chop ‘Covid-19’ trees


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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