By Shakir Mir
The bed-ridden J&K’s chief minister in Delhi’s AIIMS perhaps fuelled the rumour mills like never before in his political career. On Thursday, with the end of Delhi’s best bet in Kashmir, no room for speculation was left.
The Gupkar Road Mufti Sayeed cleared for the civilian movement during his first stint as J&K CM was barred for the civilian vehicular movement instantly. As foot journey ensued on Srinagar’s ‘powerful’ street, the change was too glaring. Ahead was the crowd of the party workers, newsmen, forces. The gates of Fairview were shut. Everyone was waiting for the body to arrive. Even the death couldn’t cease the cycle of rumours.
As the rush peaked up, the gates of the ‘first house’ were thrown open. Inside, the air was mournful. Some top party workers sat wearing the saddest faces. Among the mourners, the Nizam of Bandipora was crying on every possible shoulder lend to him. The standout moment was when crying PDP’s general secretary hugged the state’s top cop, K Rajendra, concealing his emotions.
In all this, a leafless Chinar tree in front of white painted building was staring vacant at everyone. Security men were talking how the spot would be frequented by Mufti. Nostalgia, reminiscence and unabated rumours were warming up the wintry lawn. Down the concrete path towards the entrance, the bustle was captivating. Almost all heads inside the lawn were shifting at it, anticipating the body bag at any moment.
But the final homecoming of the man was taking its time. For a while, voices began echoing from his official address. With who’s who continued pouring, many were excited to step inside the place known to devour countless lives.
Before becoming Fairview, the place was a haunting structure. As Papa-II, it devastated many lives in Kashmir. Even, Ashok Jaitley, the former chief secretary couldn’t exorcise the haunt factor. “How Mufti managed to live in such a place seems strange,” the voices grew shriller. The talking heads were mainly PDP foot soldiers. Next big crowd was that of state machinery.
At 3:45 PM, the ambulance drove in. The sight stirred up emotions in party supporters, raising slogans, glorifying the fallen patron. With a new cavalcade rush, sober Omar Abdullah walked in with shocked G N Azad. Following the trail were Mufti’s granddaughter, daughter, wife, and PDP’s rank and file.
Immediately, the withered Chinar tree became a public specter. Lensmen were all over it to capture the tri-colour cum state flag wrapped casket of state’s top executive—who like his mentor GM Sadiq and nemesis Sheikh M Abdullah died in office.
Uproar erupted when Mufti’s body was taken inside the tent packed with mourners. Minutes later, men carrying the casket came out after putting up lot of struggle. The body was taken inside a makeshift shed for final ablution. With washers busy with the last bath, the home minister Rajnath Singh drove in to pay homage to the erstwhile home minister.
On the brink of funeral, the state police force tried to give the state honour to late CM inside his lawn itself. But the supporters resisted forcing the authorities to offer the funeral prayers in scheduled venue of Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium.
In a matter of minutes, the silent Gupkar Road witnessed footfalls like never before. With supporters and party workers, the silent opposition walked together. The top brass in state machinery was on its toes, ensuring the smooth passage of the fallen leader.
Inside the stadium, several men were waiting for participating in funeral prayers. As the rush swelled, Mufti’s longtime associate, Naeem Akhtar led the funeral prayers. A quick wreath ceremony followed by state honour marked the end of Srinagar Journey of the man who was witness, active in Srinagar and its politics for nearly 60 years.
At dusk, the man—“Indian by conviction”—was taken home on the final journey.