Jammu Kashmir governor, Satya Pal Malik travels from the Raj Bhavan in Patna to the vastly more spectacular one in Srinagar and many believe that he is in Kashmir on an Amit Shah ticket.
Malik started his politics in socialist precincts and joined the BJP in his late career, he is known to have won the confidence of the powerful BJP boss over recent years.
“Nobody doubts Satya Pal Malik is very close to Amit Shah,” a BJP insider told The Telegraph shortly after his surprise pick to replace veteran N.N. Vohra as governor of Jammu and Kashmir. “Over recent years, they have quietly developed a relationship of confidence; no surprise that he got posted to the key state of Bihar, and now Jammu Kashmir.”
Malik will be at the steering wheel of India’s most trouble-ridden state with little or no administrative experience to speak of.
BJP during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s run for power in February 2014. Before landing his high-voltage job, Malik was governor to Odisha and to Bihar.
For Kashmiris, who he must now govern, Malik is an entirely unknown entity; his appointment was met in the Valley with a sense of consternation: “Who is Satya Pal Malik?”
Malik, who said he “understood the responsibility being placed upon him”, will have his task cut out. Kashmir has been in a violent roil for more than a year now. Encounters between Government forces and armed militants are a daily affair, as are street uproar and violence often aimed at disrupting security operations.
Civilian authority, especially in the districts of south Kashmir, has seldom been under as severe a challenge. To add to that, there is the impending challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court, which an overwhelming section of Kashmiris consider an attempt to undo their special status in the scheme of their accession to the Indian state.