Narendra Modi's ‘Mission Kashmir’ crack team
The government decided to introduce the ‘Kashmir Bills’ in the Rajya Sabha first because it considered the Upper House a tougher nut to crack.
On 5th August 2019, as Union Home Minister Amit Shah moved confidently to end the special status for Jammu and Kashmir, he was certainly in charge of the show. But, he had a solid team to back him: a sure-shot team gathered over time to make the double-dash of repealing Article 370/35A and bifurcation of the state work.
The government decided to introduce the ‘Kashmir Bills’ in the Rajya Sabha first because it considered the Upper House a tougher nut to crack; it had meticulously planned how to manage things for the ‘day’, more than a month in advance.
Here is a look at the ‘hit team’:
BVR Subramanyam, Chief Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir:
A Chhattisgarh cadre 1987 batch IAS officer, known as BVR in bureaucratic circles, he was the vital cog in the whole manoeuvre. He was handpicked by Modi a year ago, soon after Governor’s rule was imposed, to reach Srinagar and start preparing. The delay in imposing Governor’s rule after exhausting options to win over PDP MLAs to form a government of its own put off the ‘act’ to the second tenure of Modi regime.
Known as a thorough ‘field person’ among his peers, BVR’s prowess to build a rapport with ground forces was displayed during his posting as Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) in Chhattisgarh. He has had the experience of working as a key person in the PMO, both under Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.
BVRs contribution was immense as he worked with the Governor’s office in Srinagar, while taking directions from New Delhi.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
He was assigned the task of reviewing legal implications with his core ministerial team which included Law & Justice Secretary Alok Srivastav, Additional Secretary Law (Home) R.S. Verma, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and his select team of Kashmir Division officers. He was also in charge of swiftly moving error-free papers and documents for the whole initiative between the President’s Office, Parliament, Home Ministry and his own ministry.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval
Amit Shah focused on the implications of the revocation of Article 370 on the valley's law and order in a series of meetings with NSA. Doval was sent to Srinagar to assess the security situation. He camped there for three days.
Then on July 26, the decision to curtail the Amarnath Yatra was taken. He also suggested the recall of all tourists from the Valley. Another decision taken with NSA’s inputs was movement of additional 100 companies of central paramilitary forces to the state.
Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh
The Chief Secretary was operating in close coordination with Director General of Police (Jammu and Kashmir) Dilbagh Singh. Preventive measures which included house arrest of key political leaders, snapping of mobile and landline services, declaring Section 144 and preparing the drill for clamping curfew were all under the command of Singh.
Rajya Sabha Member Bhupendra Yadav
In Delhi, Modi had set up another key team headed by Rajya Sabha member Bhupendra Yadav and his colleague Anil Baluni. The team mustered the support of a majority in the Upper House. The Triple Talak Bill and RTI Bill were sort of a dry run for this team. Activated soon after the Lok Sabha elections, they engineered major ‘assimilative moves’ in Rajya Sabha. The TDP's Rajya Sabha members, Samajwadi Party MPs Neeraj Shekhar, Surendra Nagar, Sanjay Seth, and Congress MP Sanjay Singh quit the Rajya Sabha to tilt the balance in favour of the ruling alliance. BSP’s Satish Mishra was also reached out to by this team at the eleventh hour.