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Lt Gen (Retd.) DS Hooda likely to become next Governor of J&K
By TOG News Service
Jun 20, 2018

 TOG News Service, JAMMU, JUNE 20, 2018: WITH the term of the incumbent Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr Nagendra Nath Vohra, coming to an end in the last week of June, it is likely that his office would be filled by former Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda. However, it is expected that Mr Vohra will retain his office for an extended period till the conclusion of the annual Amarnath Yatra. As the pilgrimage is set to begin from June 28, the Centre can ill afford to appoint a fresh face at this crucial moment, considering Mr Vohra's vast experience.

Mr Vohra, who has been Governor of the state since 2008, is a retired 1959 batch IAS officer of Punjab cadre. He is the 12th and first civilian Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in 18 years after Mr Jagmohan. Mr Vohra, who was appointed Governor in June 2008 and given a fresh term in 2013, is among the few Governors appointed by the UPA Government to have continued in his position in the BJP-led NDA dispensation. The conduct of the annual pilgrimage has been a high-security exercise and the deteriorating condition in the Valley has heightened the threat perception this year.

It is worth noting that Lt Gen. Hooda has expertise on Kashmir issues, having served as General Officer Commanding of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps. Moreover, he has also served as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army. Interestingly, he held this post during the surgical strikes in September 2016. Further, Lt Gen Hooda is prominently known for his views on Kashmir with a strong emphasis on human rights. With a career spanning forty years, he has served on both the Northern and Eastern borders of India. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Pune and was commissioned into the Indian Army on December 15, 1976. He spent his early career in the 4th Battalion of the 4th Gorkha Rifles, which he later commanded. He retired on November 30, 2016 after nearly 40 years of service in the Indian Army.

It may be noted that Jammu and Kashmir has come under Governor’s rule on seven occasions before in the last four decades and an eighth spell is imminent with the collapse of the PDP-BJP alliance. Also, if such a scenario emerges with prospects of a new government unlikely it will be for the fourth time that the state would be placed under central rule during Mr Vohra’s tenure as Governor.

As likely successors, there are five names in the panel for the top post in the state, which include Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda, Major General Gagan Deep Bakshi, Lieutenant General Ata Hasnain and former Army chief, General Bikram Singh. It may be noted that all four are retired officers. The fifth candidate is Mr Dineshwar Sharma, who was appointed as special representative to Jammu & Kashmir. It was later stated that General Hooda had been finalised as the successor of Mr Vohra, but would assume office only after the Amarnath Yatra ended.