SRINAGAR, INDIA, MAY 25 -- Kashmir's governor, Jagmohan, who for five months has presided over a brutal crackdown against Moslem separatists in this troubled valley, resigned today under pressure from the Indian government in New Delhi, according to officials here.
The resignation, announced in New Delhi by President Ramaswamy Venkataraman's office, follows a bloody incident earlier this week in which Indian army troops fired on the funeral procession of a slain Kashmiri religious leader and killed at least 45 civillians. The shooting provoked expressions of concern from the United States and other countries as well as sharp criticism of Jagmohan by India's domestic political opposition.
Reaction to the news of Jagmohan's resignation here today was subdued, as life in the valley was paralyzed by official curfews, continuing house-to-house searches and a strike called by separatist militants.
Kashmiris interviewed said they did not think Jagmohan's departure would improve the situation in the valley unless it was followed by a change of policy -- away from force and toward a political settlement -- by the New Delhi administration of Prime Minister V.P. Singh.
"By now one man cannot make the difference," said a medical doctor. "They must begin by deciding to stop killing unarmed civilians."
A long-simmering rebellion by disaffected Kashmiris burst into the open earlier this year when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to demand independence from India. The uprising has escalated tensions between India and Pakistan and has provoked threats of a fourth war between the two countries, which disagree on Kashmir's sovereignty.
Officials here said Jagmohan, who uses only one name, would likely be replaced by G.D. Saxena, a former chief of India's main intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. The intelligence agency has been active in Kashmir on the Indian government's behalf but has failed to weed out militants or sow dissension among the dozens of disparate armed separatist groups fighting a united campaign against Indian troops.
If Saxena, a career intelligence officer and a Hindu from north-central India, does become governor of Jammu and Kashmir, India's only predominantly Moslem state, he will face a formidable challenge in attempting to ease separatist sentiment among Kashmir's Moslem majority population.
Backed by about 15,000 Indian troops, Jagmohan had sought to quell the Kashmir uprising by imposing a form of unofficial martial law on the valley.
But excesses by the security forces -- including beatings of suspects and firing on civilians -- during his program of extended curfews, house-to-house searches and widespread detentions of suspected militants appear to have increased support for radical separatists.
In an interview here earlier this month, Jagmohan repeatedly described the problems in the valley as a potentially rewarding personal challenge and expressed unbridled confidence that his approach would succeed in time. He said the violence associated with the crackdown he supervised in the valley had been forced upon him by the separatists.
Although Jagmohan became a visible and controversial symbol of India's tough policy in Kashmir, for months his approach enjoyed the full backing of Singh's government in New Delhi.
More recently, however, as evidence mounted that Jagmohan had neither defeated the militants nor cleared the way for a political compromise with the separatists, pressure increased on Singh to make a change.
Few Kashmiris here or diplomats in New Delhi expect a major or immediate shift in India's policy, however. For one thing, Hindu conservatives who support Singh's minority government have made a major political issue of their backing for Jagmohan's crackdown in the valley and have threatened to stage public protests if the government's policy toward the Kashmiri Moslems is softened.
The United News of India news agency quoting the head of a Hindu conservative party as saying that Jagmohan had resigned at the government's request.
The appointment of a new governor might eventually encourage traditional, pro-Indian Kashmiri leaders -- now sidelined by the ascendant militants -- to open a political dialogue with New Delhi. But in the present atmosphere of anger and polarization in the valley, a successful political settlement appears months away at the earliest.