Thursday, January 07, 2016

J-K Chief Minister, India's first Muslim home minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passes away

Veteran politician Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who was chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir, has passed away in Delhi.

Mufti, 80, was undoubtedly a master politician, who will always be remembered as the first Muslim home minister of India.

Once it was commonly said that no Muslim could ever be made a Home Minister in India as the ministry directly heads intelligence agencies apart from handling 'sensitive information'.

But when the National Front government under VP Singh came to power, Mufti became India's first Muslim Home Minister.

It was big news in media for days. However, his tenure was anything but memorable.

Soon after he became Union home minister, his daughter Rubaiya was abducted by militants in J-K. It became a crisis for the state government as well as the Centre. Rubaiyya was finally secured and safely recovered (after militants were released), after long negotiations.

But that was not the end of Mufti, who is credited to set up a political party in Jammu and Kashmir. This was no mean job. To establish a party in the state, where locals claim that nothing takes place without Centre's nod, and to become chief minister, that too twice, is a remarkable achievement.

Mufti's daughter Mahbooba Mufti also matured as a politician. In a state where Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference was the major party apart from Congress, Mufti's PDP surprisingly managed to create its vote.

Many Kashmiris now blame Mufti for letting the BJP [and the RSS] spread their base and power in Kashmir. If politics is the art of impossible, Mufti definitely did the impossible. Despite the contradictions, Mufti and Modi came together. 

He formed the government with BJP, the first time the Saffron party came to power [even though in an alliance] in the state. Also, RSS began holding 'path-sanchalan' in the State. This was something new in the State and many locals resented it.

Many Kashmiris feel that Mufti's regime weakened the state's special status. The issue of state flag also came to fore during his second tenure. However, to many outsiders Mufti's seemed better than Omar Abdullah's term when 'stone pelting returned with bullets' led to more than 100 youths killed.

Alwida Mufti sahab.