As his decade-long tenure as Governor of J&K came to an end, NN Vohra on Friday assured a delegation of top politicians that he would continue to “contribute for betterment” of the state.
Led by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, the delegation, including former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, members from National Conference, PDP, Congress and representatives of Sikh community and members of business, trade and travel groups, visited Vohra at Raj Bhavan to bid him farewell.
“You know Kashmir very well and you are well aware about the situation here. People here acknowledge whatever contribution you had for the state. We want you to be an ambassador of Jammu and Kashmir wherever you go,” Abdullah told Vohra.
The views were shared by Mehbooba who is PDP president. She thanked Vohra for guiding and advising her on different occasions as chief minister.
Other speakers also expressed appreciation of “constructive and pro-people role” played by Vohra, particularly in regard to his handling various sensitive issues relating to J&K, said an official statement.
No member from BJP or smaller parties was part of the delegation.
Thanking the members, Vohra talked about his role in the state in different capacities including his assignment as Governor for over 10 years.
“I have been in the state for long time and during this period I got support from all parties,” a member of the delegation quoted Vohra as saying.
“I will not go and sleep but do my bit in whatever form I can for betterment of situation in Jammu and Kashmir. My contribution to Kashmir will always be there.”
“We should to keep aside the issues and build consensus on Kashmir,” Vohra told the delegation, apparently referring to controversy surrounding Article 35A which empowers state legislature to define state subjects.
A petition seeking abrogation of Article 35A, which defines rights exclusively enjoyed by the state subjects, is presently being heard by the Supreme Court.
This call for abrogation of the constitutional provision by an NGO backed by right wing groups has united mainstream parties as well as separatists who have cautioned the Government of India against any tinkering with the Article.
After Vohra took over the charge of the state on June 19 this years following collapse of the PDP-BJP government, he wrote to New Delhi seeking deferment in the hearing of the case till a civilian government was in place in J&K.
In his last speech as the Governor, Vohra batted for dialogue with all stakeholders for resolving Kashmir.
A former civil servant who has handled J&K as defense and home secretary, Vohra was New Delhi’s interlocutor for Kashmir when he was re-called and appointed as J&K Governor in June 2008.
The Valley had erupted, in what is now known as first mass uprising in the region, against transfer of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board, in which at least 60 civilians were killed in force’s action. The land order was finally rescinded which ended the uprising, following which elections were held as PDP had brought down Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government over land row.
Vohra’s second stint came in 2015, when assembly elections threw up fractured mandate and it took PDP and BJP three months to finalise an alliance. He was back at helm of affairs in January 2016 following death of former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. The 82-year old Vohra was set to complete his second term as governor on June 28 when Mehbooba-led government’s fall brought him back to the centerstage.
Recalling his long involvement with J&K’s affairs, Vohra assured the delegation he would be very happy to further interests of the state whenever he gets an opportunity, the official statement said, adding he thanked all members of the group for visiting him. The delegation gifted a Kashmiri carpet to Vohra.
Other members of the delegation included NC’s Devinder Rana, Nasir Aslam Wani, Tanveer Sadiq; PDP’s AR Verri, GN Lone; Congress’ GN Monga, Taj Mohi-ud-din and members from trade and business bodies