Jag Mohan – A Savior ?

While evaluating his role as head of the state his post 1983 state assembly elections tenure can’t escape an appraisal
File photo of Jag Mohan [Image source: ANI]
File photo of Jag Mohan [Image source: ANI]

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 . )

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