Kashmir’s “Mr Serious” Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed who has been talking and walking politics throughout his life unleashed his lighter side in his luncheon meeting with the media on Sunday. He was focused on and was in know of the issues but made reporters laugh while responding to queries.
Asked by the camera persons that they are being prevented to take camera inside hospitals and are being asked to get prior permission, Mufti replied: “Have you forgotten Ahmad Shah Masood? He was asked to give interview and then the camera took off and bumped him off.”
Reporters raised the issue of some of their colleagues who were heckled by his security personnel in South Kashmir’s Islamabad on Saturday while covering Chief Minister’s visit. Mufti insisted that while there is a laid out policy, he has already given directions that these things should stop immediately.
During lunch, some reporters asked him if he was considering constituting a cell that would advise him on issues, Mufti reacted, almost instantly: “Celleh Chie Kharab Gacahan. Meh Chi Panni Celleh Thiek!” (These cells prove faulty and die but my cells are agile and working.)
One newspaper editor wanted to confirm if there was a possibility of creating a multiplex because there are no cinema halls working in Kashmir, Mufti quickly rebutted: “Pakev Broiunh, Wuen Gatcheh Beyakh Khabrah Banieth.” (Move ahead; ask another question, this will make yet another news.)
When a newsman asked the Chief Minister if he was satisfied about the performance during his two months in power, Mufti said: “What can happen in two months? During these months, we remained busy in North pole and South pole.” Mufti has famously been terming the PDP-BJP alliance as the ‘South pole, North pole combination’.
To another group of reporters who asked almost the same question, Mufti said: “Beh Chus Neh Wuen Jandeh talie Nearan.” (I am yet to get out of the flag controversy.)
Perhaps for the first time, Chief Minister refused to have any private audience with the newsmen on the issues they are confronted with.
Ghulam Hassan Kaloo suggested that “this was not an occasion to mix lunch with problems and would submit a memorandum”. But Mufti insisted that the problems must be shared in the forum. It was almost the same response to a senior editor, Tahir Mohiuddin, insisting: “Nahin Batau, Kya Baat Hai”. (No, tell me what the problem is.) It was in this response that editor suggested that there has to be content analysis of the newspapers and a new classification.
Sharing his experiences of Mumbai visit with media, Mufti said it was highly encouraging.
He had an hour long meeting with Shahrukh Khan and stayed with Dileep Kumar and Saira Bano for 90 minutes in Mumbai last week.
“Last time, I had flown all the producers from Srinagar to Pahalgam in two choppers,” Mufti said adding, “But it proved to be negative publicity as the producers said. “Mufti flew them and skipped driving them because of the security threat. It was negative publicity but that has changed completely,” he added. He said the Bollywood is flying to Kashmir and it is going to be game-changing.
Mufti said he is ready to have a Press Club in Srinagar. “I do not know if you are ready for that,” he said.
Encouraging his guests to have meals, when one of the reporters asked about the status of Srinagar-Islamabad highway, Mufti was courageous and candid: “It is so bad that I do not travel on this but it is changing fast. We are laying a six lane road and we have set the deadlines.”