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The void left by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Rohini Verma | 08 Jan 2016

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state and a dominant figure in the politics, died on Thursday. He was 79 years old.

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state and a dominant figure in the politics, died on Thursday. He was 79 years old.

Mr. Sayeed was suffering from a lung infection and was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in New Delhi with complaints of high fever and neck pain. His death has opened the way for his daughter to take over as the next chief minister of the state. Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed is president of the People's Democratic Party, which was founded by her father.

Mr. Sayeed served as the state's chief minister between 2002 and 2005 in a coalition with the Congress party. He was born on Jan. 12, 1936.  Mr. Sayeed began his political career with the National Conference party, which is now the main opposition party in the state. He soon left to join the Congress party. Mr. Sayeed became the country's first Muslim home minister in 1989. A Congressman until 1987, Sayeed left the party and joined the ranks of V P Singh to become Home Minister of the National Front government in 1989.  The same year, one of his three daughters Rubaiyya Sayeed, was kidnapped by Kashmiri terrorists but later freed in exchange for the release of some militants.

The J&K government has announced seven days of state mourning. The national flag was flown half-mast Thursday across the country as a mark of respect. Mr. Sayeed's body was flown in a special IAF plane to Srinagar and he was laid to rest at his ancestral village in Bijbehara in South Kashmir.