A business tycoon who survived three life attempts succumbed to liver ailment. Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari was a prominent Shia cleric and the four-time legislator from North Kashmir’s Pattan area.
Ansari died in the wee hours Tuesday after battling an ailment for more than a year. He was 74 and is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Born on April 26, 1940, he studied Islamic theology in Iran, Egypt and Iraq. Starting his political career in 1960s, Ansari was nominated as an MLC in 1973 on Congress ticket but switched to Janata Party in 1977.
He returned to Congress in 1980s and was chosen as leader of the Legislature party in the State Assembly from 1983 to 1987.
Ansari was again elected to the state legislative assembly in 1996 on a Congress ticket and became a minister in the National Conference (NC) government headed by Farooq Abdullah. In 2002, he joined NC and was elected from Pattan Assembly segment later that year but quit the party in 2006 to join the PDP.
He won 2008 assembly elections on a PDP ticket and was nominated as the party candidate for the forthcoming assembly elections scheduled to be held later this year.
After the news of his demise spread, a huge influx of mourners led the traffic jams in many parts of Srinagar. Besides, many Shia dominated area observed shutdown as a mark of respect to the departed leader.
The deceased was also a business tycoon. His family also owns two leading car showrooms in Srinagar.
Many warrants were issued against him for his alleged role in helping a company to sign a deal with his ministry after allegedly taking Rs 625,000 from Infrastructure Projects Private Limited. (Pertinently, Ansari was tasked to set up a 5 billion rupee satellite township at Sidhra in Jammu and Kashmir.)
He wasn’t keeping well for some time. He was flown to New Delhi for treatment. When flood hit valley, he was shifted to his daughter’s residence at Alamgari Bazar.
Ansari survived three assassination bids. In June 2000, he escaped the explosion of a landmine while addressing a religious congregation at Gund Khwaja Qasim. The blast killed twelve of his followers. On September 1 same year, Ansari was injured by an IED explosion that killed two policemen and a driver. Police suspected Hizbul Mujahideen.
Cutting across the party line, chief minister Omar Abdullah was among first who reached Ansari’s residence and condole the demise. Later Omar’s father Dr Farooq Abdullah termed the loss as ‘personal’.