Ali Mohammad Sagar

First, he hinted at reviving the old ties with the Mirwaiz’s family. The senior National Conference (NC) leader and Panchayat Raj minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar moved an extra mile when he commemorated the “martyrdom anniversary” of late Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq at his Srinagar residence. It was for the first time in two decades that any member of the ruling NC observed the day.

“Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq was not only a religious scholar but also a politician. His martyrdom created a void. He never hesitated to attend conferences organized by his rivals. In 1965 when Sheikh (Mohammad Abdullah) sahib called a peoples conference, he attended it. In 1980’s he played a pivotal role to end sectarian clashes,” Sagar said in his address at his residence.

Sagar termed late Mirwaiz Farooq as a “great visionary” and said that after the erstwhile double-Farooq accord, chief minister Omar Abdullah and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq can revive similar alliance as “nothing is impossible in politics.”

Political observers termed Sagar’s move as an effort by NC to cash in on Mirwaiz family’s influence in pockets of Srinagar city, ahead of the 2014 elections. “Their hands are soaked in the blood of martyrs and now they try to serve their vested political interests over those killings. This is sheer opportunism on their part,” Hurriyat (M) spokesman said in a statement.

Sagar, a postgraduate with honours degree in law was born in Srinagar on November 27, 1953. He remained general secretary of Youth Federation from 1977-1983. He then became general secretary of Youth NC from 1983-1988 and also acted as municipal councilor between 1978-1983.

The day when Sagar was observing late Mirwaiz’s anniversary at his residence, Mirwaiz Umar was prevented to move ahead with his proposed Eidgah rally. The government defended the move by saying it was only trying to thwart any major trouble.

Sagar, who was elected to Legislative Assembly in 1983, 1987, 1996, 2002 and 2008, termed the killing of late Mirwaiz Farooq and attack on his funeral more brutal than Jalianwalla Bagh massacre. “On May 21, 1990, people who were part of funeral procession of Mirwaiz received bullets in eyes, faces and even heads,” he said. “Several requests were made to then Home Minister of India, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, to provide security to Mirwaiz but he declined and denied him security cover. Late Mirwaiz was attacked before 1990 at Nigeen. But Mufti paid no heed to his security.”

Sagar has served the state as a minister of state for information in 1989 and minister for home in 1996. Sagar polled 6,313 votes in the J&K Assembly Elections 2008 and defeated his nearest rival, Showkat Ahmed Hafiz, by a margin of 5,507 votes. “Late Mirwaiz is the collective asset of Kashmir. Everybody has a right to observe his anniversary,” Sagar said.

-Bilal Handoo


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