SRINAGAR: Seventeen long years after the Mufti’s moved into Fairview, a dreaded interrogation centre-turned-into-political-powercentre, the Jammu and Kashmir Government on Friday asked former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to vacate the two-storeyed heritage house, overlooking the Dal Lake on the posh Gupkar Road.
The Jammu and Kashmir Estates Department while issuing the eviction notice to the PDP chief, has also offered an alternative accommodation to her.
“Kindly find enclosed Notice No. DDES/SC/2022/2794 dated 15-10-2022, issued under sub-section 1 of section 4 of The Jammu and Kashmir Public Premises (Eviction of Un-authorized Occupants) Act, 1988, read with amended Act, 2016,” read the notice, issued to Mufti.
“It is to be communicated to your goodself that, should you require an alternative accommodation, the Government is willing to provide the same on your request, on security or any other ground(S),” added the notice.
Soon after BJP pulled out of coalition government with Mehbooba in 2018, she was served notices to evict her official accommodations, both in Jammu and New Delhi, while the speculations was rife on Fairview for a long time.
In the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, a former Chief Minister was entitled to lifelong official accommodation. However, after the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the special provision also ceased to exist.
The Fairview residence has a fair bit of history attached to it. It was used as an official guest house and known as Fairview Guest House till 1989, before the building was taken over by security forces turning it into a detention centre named Papa-II, during the peak of militancy. In the year 1996, the building was used by Ashok Jaitlay, former Chief Secretary of the State, before it was renovated in 2003, and served as residence of then Finance Minister Muzaffer Hussain Baig.
In the year 2005, when Mufti Muhammad Sayeed completed his 3 years as the chief minister, in a PDP-Congress alliance, he moved in along with his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. The Fairview remained Muftis’ address ever since.
The Fairview has remained the political powerhouse for larger part of J&K’s recent history, neighbouring Abdullahs’ residences and in close proximity to the headquarters of Intelligence Bureau and an entrance to the headquarters of the Army’s 15 Corps.
It is believed that Mufti Syeed was asked to shift from there on numerous occasion but he refused. After Mufti’s death, Mehbooba succeeded her as the Chief Minister, retaining the official accommodation.
Before Mehbooba, another former chief minister and National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah had vacated his official residence voluntarily in view of changes in the rules of entitlement.