This is an eye opening autobiography of the author, after his return home from Nepal, at the end of his Ambassadorial appointment there. While promoting Indo-Nepal cordial relations, he also established very close personal relations with the Government and the people of Nepal. The same identification with the people characterised his subsequent tenures as Governor. His return from Nepal was followed by an interlude of seven years. Thereafter, he was appointed Governor of Assam in 1997. After six years in Assam, he was appointed Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in 2003, in which capacity he served for five years. During all these three phases of his life, he remained very pro-active, as amply brought out in this book.
Both Assam and Jammu and Kashmir, have been India’s most sensitive States, from the point of national security. They have suffered decades of militancy at the hands of secessionists. Guarding India’s integrity in these States is a very challenging task. This book gives a detailed account of how the author tried to meet this challenge for eleven years. He endeavoured to bring the people of these two States into the national mainstream. His unique emotional approach as part of counter-insurgency operations, paid a rich dividend in Assam.
He was acclaimed by the people there as “a true son of the soil of Assam.” In Jammu and Kashmir, his approach to win the hearts and minds of the people and promote Kashmiriyat made appreciable progress. The more he succeeded, the more he aroused the ire of the fundamentalists and separatists, joined by unscrupulous politicians. During the last fortnight of his five year tenure, these elements managed to generate a communal storm in the name of religion, on a non-issue of diversion of 100 acre land for Amarnath pilgrims.
The battle for Kashmiriyat may have been lost during the summer madness of 2008, but the war for Kashmiriyat was not. The voice of the silent majority which had been suppressed during militancy had begun to assert itself. This got silenced during the communal tornado that swept the Valley during the summer of 2008. A few months later, during the State Assembly elections, that voice asserted itself in a dramatic manner through large voter turn out, despite all odds. This vindicated the author’s faith. It augurs well for the ultimate triumph of Kashmiriyat.
During his tenure as Governor in these two States, the author had to interact with four Chief Ministers, with each for two to three years. He had very cordial relations with two, not so cordial with one and totally adverse with one. He has frankly narrated his version of that relationship. This can be a case study for Constitutional Pandits, examining relations between the Head of State and the Head of Government.
Author: Lt Gen S K Sinha, PVSM
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