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Mufti gave peace a chance

Source: PTI
October 28, 2005 15:37 IST
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The three-year term of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, which will come to end on November 2, has been a mixed bag for the state as well as his People's Democratic Party.

Ghulam Nabi Azad to take over as CM on November 2

Sayeed, who took over the reins of the state amidst high expectations in and outside the state, achieved partial success in delivering on his electoral promises, say political observers who consider his role in furthering the peace process as quite positive.

The historic resumption of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service reuniting divided Kashmir after a gap of 50 years, the dialogue with the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference and the Hurriyat's visit to Pakistan were possible due to significant role of the state government.

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Opinion is divided on his 'healing touch' policy aimed at weaning away youth from militancy. Observers find that Sayeed could not make much difference on the 'human rights' front as allegations of violations were the highest during his regime compared to the previous 12 years following the outbreak of militancy. The other view was that while in power he had to enforce the rule of law and some actions could have come under criticism in that process.

Allegations of custodial killings, fake encounters, rape, torture, illegal detention and enforced disappearances continued to pour in despite assurances by the chief minister that he would ensure such things were not repeated. Sayeed might have got the nod of the Congress party high command to continue as chief minister for the rest of the term as well but his reported reluctance to implement the Wazir Commission report on delimitation of assembly constituencies and reorganisation of districts had annoyed the coalition partners whose members hail mostly from Jammu region.

But, observers say it is still too early to say it is the end of the political career of 73-year-old as he has staged a comeback several times in the past. The main achievements of the three-year rule of Sayeed were revival of the tourism industry and his thrust on financial independence and economic growth of the state. Since 2003, the first tourist season after the PDP-led coalition government took over, the influx of tourists has been rising steadily with this year registering an all time record of 1 million tourist arrivals. To put things in context, only 20,000 tourists visited the Kashmir valley in 2002 and it was due to sustained efforts of Sayeed, which included visiting foreign countries, that there was a complete change in the tourism sector.

Besides reviving the sick economy of the state, the heavy increase in tourist arrivals sent positive message to the outside world that the security situation in the state was not as bad as perceived.

Improvement in tourism and security situation of the state also gave a boost to industry as investors felt safe to pump in nearly Rs 3,000 crore in various sectors last year. This was the highest investment received by the state since the eruption of militancy in 1990.

Sayeed rose to the post of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief in 1975, which he held for 11 years, before moving to the centre as tourism minister in 1986.

He resigned from the Union cabinet led by Rajiv Gandhi a year later following communal riots in Uttar Pradesh and joined the Janata Dal. He won the Lok Sabha elections from Muzaffarnagar in 1989 and was made Union home minister in the V P Singh cabinet.

Sayeed went into hibernation for a while but joined the Congress again in 1996 along with his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. He won the Anantnag parliamentary seat on a Congress ticket in 1998.

Two years later, he floated his own party the PDP and within four years managed to become chief minister of the state.

Sayeed went into hibernation for a while but joined the Congress again in 1996 along with his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. He won the Anantnag Parliamentary seat on a Congress ticket in 1998.

Two years later, he floated his own regional party PDP and within four years managed to become Chief Minister of the state.

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