We were in the process of finalizing the design of our regular issue when the news of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s demise set the TV screens afire. By 10 AM, the newsroom was discussing how to map the journey of a man whose political career spawns over six decades. With barely 24 hours left to get into press, changing entire contents was a challenging task.
But the decision was taken to delay the publication by a day so that the demise of two-time Chief Minister is detailed for posterity. It was decided to break down his political journey into three timelines: Mufti’s raw ambition till he was shifted out of the state in 1975, his rise to power in Delhi when he became India’s first Muslim home minister, and his comeback and launch of PDP in 1999 and the life afterwards.
The issue contains detailed account of Mufti’s last tour of Srinagar city where he visited 16 spots and met 23 delegations in a span of 12 hours. It was challenging to trace individuals, officials, police officers who accompanied him on his last tour. The newsroom practically worked round the clock to piece together Mufti’s life from whatever little resources we had at our disposal. It was practically a race against time for our staff as they had to shuttle between Srinagar and Bijhbehara and back, in order to be part of Mufti’s last journey home. Given the paucity of time, this special issue in your hand might have some minor mistakes, errors, but they are purely unintentional.
It was during investigations that we were informed of his highly impressive interaction with his party leaders barely three days ahead of his hospitalization. It led to launching a serious effort to get that information in bits and pieces. By the time we had readied the copy, we eventually got a complete visual coverage of the daylong event.
It is always difficult to write about a person who has practically lived his life by instinct rather than by the rulebooks. The task became even more challenging in absence of any official or unofficial biography. On top of that his close friends and party men were all in deep mourning, and inaccessible to media.
Apart from profiling the life and times of Mufti, the newsroom wanted to do a piece on challenges faced by his political successor and daughter Ms Mehbooba Mufti. We wanted to detail how Ms Mufti was instrumental in making her father relevant to Kashmir at the fag end of his political career. But given the paucity of space and time, and an over worked staff, we abandoned the idea for the next issue.
Given the fact that fast changing situation added more strain because we had to take care of our web that required almost minute to minute updation.
Right now when we are going to press, the state is under the Governor’s rule for the seventh time in Kashmir’s history. It is anticipated that there is a strong possibility of a new government being in office by next week. But nothing is ruled out in the unpredictable politics of the place.
As you will be going through this issue, we will be covering the problems and prospects of a PDP without Mufti. However, we will be waiting for your response to the efforts we put in this week, as always.