Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is no more. The 79-year-old prominent politician, who also served as Union Home minister in VP Singh government in 1989, died early on Thursday morning at AIIMS in New Delhi. President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with host of leaders across the parties condoled Mr. Mufti’s demise.
Jammu and Kashmir government has declared a seven-day mourning and holiday on Thursday. Flags will be flown at half mast.
Mufti Sayeed, who took charge as the Chief Minister of the sensitive state for the second time on March 1, 2015, was undergoing a treatment at AIIMS where he was diagnosed with sepsis (life threatening complication of an infection) and pneumonia. He was flown from Srinagar in a special plane on December 24 after his condition had deteriorated.
He is the second J&K Chief Minister to die in office, the first one being Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who died on September 8, 1982.
According to some reports, Sayeed’s daughter 56-year-old Mehbooba is expected to take over as the Chief Minister of the state with PDP leaders throwing their weight behind her. But this will require the approval of its ally BJP.
Condoling his death, President Pranab Mukherjee said his contribution to public service will always be remembered. Expressing his heartfelt condolences, the President said, “Contribution of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to Jammu and Kashmir and India through long years of public service will always be remembered”.
Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari too paid his tributes to the departed leader.
“I am deeply grieved to hear about the demise of Shri Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Chief Minister of J&K. He was a consensus builder and always placed the nation’s interest ahead of every other consideration. His death is an irreparable loss to the people of India,” the Vice President said.
Paying tributes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed Mufti Sayeed’s death has left a huge void in the nation and that the leader who provided a healing touch would be missed.
“What stood out about Mufti Sahab was his statesmanship. In his long political journey he won many admirers across the political spectrum,” PM Modi said.
Congress party President Sonia Gandhi also expressed grief over the demise of Mufti as she communicated her condolences to his wife and Mehbooba. “In his death, the state of Jammu and Kashmir as indeed the entire nation has lost a great leader,” she said.
Political opponent and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too expressed his condolences to Sayeed’s family at AIIMS. His father and former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah also condoled the death of Sayeed.
“Just heard the terrible news of Mufti Sahib’s passing away. I’m shocked and deeply saddened. May he rest in peace,” Omar Abdullah shared on a micro-blogging site Twitter.
Among other political parties, CPI (M) leader MY Tarigami said the mature leadership of Sayeed will be missed greatly and it was a “very very sad moment for people of Jammu and Kashmir, which is already under stress and strain”.
The mortal remains of the Chief Minister were flown to Srinagar where his body was kept for people to pay homage. He was buried in his ancestral village Bijbehera in South Kashmir, about 48 kms from Srinagar. J&K Governor NN Vohra, Union Home minister Rajnath Singh, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and former CM Omar Abdullah attended Sayeed’s funeral.
Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over as chief minister of PDP-BJP coalition on March 1 last year. In the 87-member J&K Assembly PDP won 28 seats and BJP 25 while opposition National Conference got 15 and Congress 12.
(With inputs from the PTI)