|JK Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed passed away!|
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
Chief Minister of Jammu Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away in New Delhi at at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi this morning 9.10 a.m., 14 days after he was hospitalized. He died due to multi-organ failure despite the best attempts to resuscitate him. Mufti was 79.
Mufti was flown to AIIMS on December 24 and later shifted to the ICU in a critical state. A family member added that the doctors’ best efforts could not save Sayeed, who was brought to AIIMS and put on ventilator three days back. “We tried to revive him but failed to,” an AIIMS spokesperson told IANS.
Sayeed was suffering from a non-specific systemic infection, with the exact cause of the infection not being known. He had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a progressive lung disease. Sayeed was being administered prophylactic antibiotics and anti-fungal drugs. His treatment was being closely monitored by a team of experts comprising doctors from several departments at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He was also a patient of acute diabetes and had been on a routine check-up every month at the institute.
Sayeed, who first served as Jammu Kashmir chief minister in 2002-05, took oath of office in alliance with the BJP this time on March 1 last year.
It is almost certain that his daughter and senior PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti would become the next CM of Jammu Kashmir. Even before Sayeed fell ill, reports said he intended to hand down power to his daughter Mehbooba Mufti after completing one year in office on March 1, 2016.
Mehbooba currently heads the PDP whose alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been ruling the state since March 1 this year. According to the alliance terms decided between the PDP and BJP, Sayeed was to remain the chief minister for the full six-year term of the state assembly. “Muftiji ws a visionary leader who dedicated his entire life to a united and strong JK in India. His demise at a crucial juncture saddening,” tweeted BJP leader Ram Madhav.
The transition will make Mehbooba, 56, the first woman chief minister of the state. “My daughter is mature enough to handle responsibilities and has access to leadership and cadre on both sides,” Sayeed had said.
In a long career in politics, Senior politician Sayeed was a Congressman till 1987, and had been minister for tourism in the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1986, after which he joined former Prime Minister V P Singh’s National Front government as India’s home minister. His short stint there (1989-90) was marred by the kidnapping by Kashmiri militants, of his daughter Rubaiyya Sayeed. Sayeed’s other daughter Mehbooba Mufti is considered his political heir, and through his illness there has been talk of her succeeding to the chief minister’s chair in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed came a long way from being the man with little popular connect and someone who couldn’t win elections outside his south Kashmir stronghold to twice become the chief minister of a state scarred by decades of violence.
In a political career spanning over half a century, Sayeed is credited with turning the state around during his first stint in 2002, becoming the first mainstream politician from Jammu and Kashmir to talk about cordial relations with Pakistan and embarking on a radical, if risky, alliance with the BJP.
Born on January 12, 1936, in Anantnag district’s Bijbehara to a family of clerics, he completed his preliminary studies in Srinagar and earned a law and post-graduate degree in Arabic from Aligarh Muslim University. His entry into politics happened when he was practicing law in Kashmir and joined a party led by Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq, which was considered a Congress proxy till it merged with the national party years later. He held several important roles in subsequent governments after the National Conference (NC) government was toppled and its charismatic leader Sheikh Abdullah jailed.
In the Congress government led by Mir Qasim in 1972, Sayeed was made a cabinet minister. He was made the state Congress chief after the Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah accord and his return to power in 1974. After the second NC and Congress alliance during the tenure of Rajiv Gandhi and Farooq Abdullah, Sayeed was sent to the Rajya Sabha and subsequently made the Union tourism minister. He fell out with the Congress over the Rajiv-Farooq accord in November 1986 and quit the party in 1987 and joined the VP Singh-led formation, becoming the country’s first Muslim home minister in 1989. But within a few days of taking office, the country was thrown into unprecedented turmoil when his daughter Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped by militants. The medical student was released after a tense negotiation with the government in exchange of some extremists.
Sayeed’s tenure as home minister of India under VP Singh leadership was less than stellar, with the state witnessing a sharp rise in militancy and cases of human rights violation. Many harsh laws that are still widely unpopular in Kashmir were enforced during his tenure.
Sayeed returned to the Congress during the PV Narasimha Rao era but parted ways again in 1999 along with his daughter Mehbooba Mufti to form his own party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The next few years saw a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Sayeed, who had found it difficult to gather candidates for the 1996 elections as Mehbooba rejuvenated the cadre, visiting the families of militants and civilians killed by security forces.
But in the next elections in 2002, his party roundly defeated the NC and formed a government in alliance with the Congress. His first stint as chief minister was nothing short of remarkable for someone once known as Delhi’s man in the Valley.
The state saw the first stirrings of economic development after decades of bruising bloodshed, the removal of encroachments and a much-needed facelift for the capital, Srinagar. Sayeed insisted on zero-tolerance on human rights violations and civilian killings. He played a much bigger role in bringing estranged neighbours India and Pakistan together.
In March 2005, on his watch the first passenger bus crossed the Line of Control through the peace bridge, Aman Sethu, bringing a new thaw in bilateral relations.
For the first time, Kashmiris could cross the border without a visa and passport. All they needed was a permit proclaiming that they are residents of Jammu Kashmir. This paved the way for emotional reunions for hundreds of families to visit their former homes and relatives on the other side — Pakistan-occupied Azad Kashmir.
Although the tenure ended prematurely following differences with the Congress over allocation of land to the Amarnath shrine, Sayeed’s pro-people image loomed large.
He was defeated in the next elections but led the PDP in 2014 to uproot the NC after a disappointing tenure of Omar Abdullah which was marred by street protests and killings. Both the NC and Congress offered him support but Sayeed chose a stable government and did not take the risk of alienating the Union government and the people of Jammu, who overwhelmingly voted for the BJP, to align with the saffron party.
But many in his own party feel the BJP’s agenda may wash away his gains in the Valley. As the Narendra Modi government’s initial gestures of generosity waned, Sayeed’s opponents once again started calling him New Delhi’s man in Kashmir. The uneasy silence on the growing religious and regional intolerance of the Modi regime left many PDP leaders crying foul.
Condoling Sayeed’s death, former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said “My heart felt sympathies to Mrs Syed, Mehbooba & the entire family in this most difficult of times. My & my family’s prayers are with them.” The chief minister recently hinted Mehbooba could take over the reins of the state.
The work done by this coalition can make or break the 79-year-old’s legacy, with many already saying the BJP alliance has taken Sayeed back to where he began from.
Will Sayeed be remembered as the chief minister who undid his own legacy by ushering in right-wing forces in the Valley or as a leader who dared to break the shackles of convention and allowed himself to align with a Hindutva BJP party to realize former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s vision of Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat?
Leaders like Mufti have tried to help India in muting Kashmiri anger against Indian brutal occupation of Jammu Kashmir resulting in major genocides in the valley. Mufti also takes credit for participating in the genocides of Kashmiri Muslims. In fact, Mufti has gone one step further in introducing Hindutva forces led by BJP as a respectable outfit by forming a coalition government with BJP by which a Hindu became the Deputy CM- considered as a major victory for BJP in Kashmir. BJP is eager to saffronize Kashmir valley, now a tensed zone full of secret graveyards…..