Mufti Mohammad Sayeed dead, Mehbooba to succeed as CM

New Delhi/Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who crafted an impossible coalition with BJP in the Muslim-majority state, died today and just hours later his party PDP chose his daughter Mehbooba Mufti as his successor.

Sayeed, 79, breathed his last at AIIMS this morning after remaining on ventilator for the past few days. A Congressman till 1987, Sayeed left the party and joined the ranks of V P Singh to become the only Muslim Home Minister of India when he was inducted into the cabinet of the National Front government in 1989.

Sayeed, who was Chief Minister from 2002 to 2005 in coalition with Congress, played a leading part in PDP and BJP coming together to form a coalition that helped the saffron party share power for the first time in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid glowing tributes to Sayeed and offered homage to him at the technical area of the Palam airport before the body was flown to Srinagar in an air force plane.

“Mufti Sahab provided a healing touch to J&K through his leadership. What stood out about Mufti Sahab was his statesmanship. In his long political journey he won many admirers across the political spectrum,” said Modi.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh was deputed by the prime minister to represent the Centre in the funeral.

Draped in the national tricolour and the red-and-white flag of the state, the coffin was later taken from his official residence in Srinagar to the ancestral graveyard in Anantnag. He was given a state funeral before being laid to rest with full state honours as thousands of his admirers and party activists paid him homage.

The ‘Namaaz-e-Janazah’ (funeral prayers) of the departed leader was offered in the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar in which thousands of mourners took part.