People Democratic Party (PDP) will be facing a difficult time after the death of their leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who passed away on January 7 after a brief illness. Things will not be easy for Mehbooba Mufti, daughter of Sayeed, who is set to be the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
But when this reporter talked to the state leaders of the BJP, they didn’t say anything about the decision. One of the BJP leaders said, “Call Ram Madhav. Why are you are asking me? Nothing has been decided yet.”
But who was Mufti Mohammad Sayeed ? What impact will his death have on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir?
He started his political career in 1950s as the political activist of Democratic National Conference which was formed after the split of National Conference. The party was later merged with Indian National Congress.
In 1967, he was elected for the first time in the state assembly.
In 1972, he became the cabinet minister in the Congress government.
Sayeed was considered a staunch Congressman but, many believe he drifted his loyalty many times towards other parties.
Till last mufti saheb’s dna was of a true congressman irrespective of him being in other parties.
— Rajeev Shukla (@ShuklaRajiv) January 7, 2016
In 1986, when the Congress and the National Conference joined hands, Sayeed was sent to Rajya Sabha and was inducted in the Rajiv Gandhi government as the minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation.
But he quit the ministry in 1987 and left the Congress. He was also part of the Jan Morcha which he formed with VP Singh. In 1989, Sayeed became the first Muslim Home Minister of India.
The GawKadal and Bijbehara massacres took place when Sayeed was the Home Minister of the country. The people held him responsible for the massacres as he was at the helm of affairs.
Sayeed’s stint in the home ministry was infamous for the incident involving the kidnapping of his third daughter, Rubaiya Sayeed by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Kashmir’s first militant organisation.
They demanded freeing five of their militants in exchange for Rubaiya’s freedom and later let her free only after their demands were met.
The people of Kashmir also believe that Sayeed was responsible for implementing Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Successive governments have promised that they will revoke the draconian law but have failed to do so yet.
— Qadri Inzamam (@Qadri_Inzamam) January 7, 2016
In 1999, Sayeed along with his daughter resigned from the Congress and formed a separate party as People Democratic Party. The party provided an option to the people of Jammu and Kashmir from the National Conference and Congress who had ruled the state from 1947.
The party’s ideology, many believe, was based on the soft separatism agenda. The party symbol, pen and an ink pot, was same as of the Muslim United Front, which comprised of separatists leaders like SAS Geelani, and the current United Jihad Council supremo Syed Sslahudin. Muslim United Front lost the elections — alleging rigging in the polls — and disintegrated eventually, only to form Hurriyat Conference in 1993.
In 2002, PDP fought for the first time and won 16 seats in the assembly out of 87. They formed the government with Congress with rotational chief minister.
It was Mufti Sayeed who gave the slogan of ‘Healing Touch’, which according to him referred to the healing of wounds his people had faced since the start of the armed insurgence.
He also gave the slogan of Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Se (Guns are not any solution. Problems will be solved through dialogue). And it was during his time that many developments between India and Pakistan took place.
Deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Mufti Sahab. He was kind, warm, brilliant and exemplary leader with strong administrative qualities
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— Lalu Prasad Yadav (@laluprasadrjd) January 7, 2016
It was his idea of bringing former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Kashmir in the backdrop of growing hostility with Pakistan, brewed by the Kargil war and the Parliament attack, subsequently.
Condole sad demise of J&K CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed..May his soul rest in peace..
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) January 7, 2016
During his tenure as the Chief Minister, the Special Task Force, a notorious special operations force to eliminate militants in Kashmir, was disbanded. People were terrified by this force and Mufti in 2002 election manifesto promised to relive it.
These all initiatives made him and his party popular among the people. But in June 28, 2008, PDP pulled out of the coalition government when Ghulum Nabi Azad, the Congress politician, was heading the state. This happened in the wake of Amarnath Land Row which many political pundits say was ‘a mistake committed by him in his political career’.
When the next elections took place, National Conference formed the government under the leadership of Omar Abdullah.
PDP sat in opposition for the next six years. During that time many incidents unfolded in the state. In 2009, Shopian rape and murder case happened and it sparked protests across Kashmir. It was later followed by a spree of protests in the year 2010. More than 120 people were killed. Most of them were young boys.
After the floods of 2014, the incumbency factor was clearly visible in the Omar Abdullah government. The elections were held after the floods and results were shocking.
The fractured mandate lead chaos and confusion in the state. PDP emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats in the house of 87, while the real king-maker was BJP which bagged 25 seats, all of them from Jammu.
After the elections results were out, it had become clear [that] the Kashmir region had totally rejected the BJP. Omar Abdullah, without wasting time, extended support to Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed to keep the BJP at bay and away from forming any kind of government in the state.
In fact, many believe that the people of Kashmir rejected the boycott call given by separatists only to stop the entry of BJP in the state. However, it was not to be.
The civil society of Kashmir and prominent personalities conveyed to PDP about not going with an alliance with the BJP. When it was decided that these two parties will form a government it came as shocker for people in the Valley.
The BJP before the elections said that they will revoke the Article 370, which gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. But PDP has always defended it.
Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed, throughout his tenure, maintained to keep the state united after joining hands with the BJP.
Sayeed has now become history but it will be worth to see what footprints he has left behind in the state and in the country. It remains to be seen what happens to the fragile alliance of PDP-BJP.