Kashmiri Pandits mourned the death of Jagmohan because they considered him a savior. Jagmohan was the Governor of the State in January, 1990 when circumstances forced Pandits to leave Kashmir. He gave them shelter in Jammu which earned him their gratitude. For Pandits 1990 was the culmination of events which unfolded in 1984 –with a devastating manifestation in Feb 1986. Jagmohan was Governor earlier also. While evaluating his role as head of the state his post 1983 state Assembly elections tenure can't escape an appraisal.
In early 1980s Mrs. Indira Gandhi was bulldozing non-Congress state governments. In this background we have to assess actions of Jagmohan . After the demise of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Indira Gandhi ensured the coronation of Farooq Abdullah. Latter on relations turned sour because she wanted a power sharing alliance of Congress and the NC in 1983 state Assembly elections, which Farooq Abdullah didn't agree to. Syed Mir Qasim has said so in his Dastaan-e-Hyat. P L Koul – advocate and a noted political activist has the same thing to say in his book Crisis in Kashmir, Suman Publications , Delhi pp 179 -180 . Journalist M J Akbar writes in his – Kashmir : Behind the Vale , " ………….. Mrs Gandhi wanted an NC – Congress alliance in the Assembly polls along the axis which had almost materialized in 1975 …. Farooq himself was not keen on the idea .." p 200.
After having spurned her offer of alliance , Mrs. Gandhi wouldn't allow Farooq Abdullah to continue as CM. But B K Nehru , the then Governor didn't do the bidding. According to Akbar " …….the Governor BK Nehru refused to cooperate. He told that removal of Farooq would initiate a process which Delhi would not able to control ….B K Nehru was transferred and ever obliging Jagmohan was sent to reside in the beautiful palace overlooking Dal lake ." pp 206-7
In came Jagmohan: he obliged the centre by dislodging Farooq Abdullah and installing G M Shah as the CM, in 1984. According to Mir Qasim "Jagmohan misused the office of the governor; worked as agent of Congress and dismissed Farooq government." Dastan –e – Hayat Adbyat Delhi p 438 .
In his My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir – Allied Publishers N Delhi at p 258 Jagmohan explains his action of dislodging Farooq Abdullah:
For proper appreciation of the case in regard to dismissal of Farooq Abdullah , it is necessary to keep in view what I have stated above and also the special circumstance in which I was called upon to take the decision in the light of provisions of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
Two things need to be noticed here ( i ) " What I have stated above " and (ii) " special circumstances ." ' What is stated above ' in pages 255-257 of the book is about the qualities of an ideal Governor . So , it doesn't make us any wiser . Two instances are given as special circumstances to illustrate his point. First, that Farooq Abudllah was hobnobbing with Sikh activists, and he refers to the correspondence between P C Sethi the then Union Home Minister and Dr Abdullah. That correspondence is not made public so we don't have the contents. However, Akbar , in his book at page 207 refers to the official press conference of Mohammad Shafi, Farooq's Information Minister, dated 15.6.1984 to the effect that Sethi informed Lok-Sabha on 16th Nov, 1983 that no arms training was given in the gurmat camps held in the state. Second, it is said that Farooq government was reduced to the minority. Jagmohan admits that no floor test was conducted to judge the minority. Jagmohan, then had the dubious distinction of administering oath of office to same Farooq, in 1987, who was a "security threat" in 1984.
In a bid to cut down legacy of National Conference , so assiduously nurtured by Sheikh Abdullah, the very roots of Indian presence and secular ethos of the Valley dried up. Additionally, the act saw gradual drift of the state into the fundamentalist hands and unleashed violent forces. KPs had to bear the brunt . Wish they appreciate it !
B K Nehru had visualized the ramifications of the act the central government wanted to initiate. Here, Jagmohan erred in his judgment. He sympathizes with the governors who, according to him, are thrown in an unenviable crisis not of their making. ( P 256 My Frozen Turbulence) The contemporary history of gubernatorial interventions, using Jagmohan's term , when the Governors landed in "unenviable situation" to deal with the intricate issues were, largely, of their own making. There are instances when some of the proactive Governors encouraged and facilitated the defection at the bidding of their political masters.
The rulers in Delhi and their appointee governors must listen to what legal luminary, Nani Palkhiwalla has said in his book , We The Nation ( pages 58 -59) ;
….. Can a government be permitted to trivialize the constitutional process by acting as the agent provocateur to assist new claimant to engineer defection and disloyalties . The Constitution never intended the government to have " unfettered right " to act as official liquidator of national character .
Speaking about role of Governors of AP in dismissing NTR government , Palkhiwalla said
But what was first enacted as a tragedy in Sikkim and J&K is too tragic to be enacted again in as a farce in AP.
B L SARAF is former Principal District & Sessions Judge
(Note: My sincere acknowledgements to the respected persons whose works I have taken liberty to refer here in above . )