Rising Kashmir News –Srinagar, Sep 30: Prominent Shia cleric and senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari passed away Tuesday morning after a prolonged spell of illness.
He was 74.
Ansari, a four-time MLA from Pattan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district and two-time cabinet minister, died after battling liver cirrhosis for more than a year.
A veteran politician and an influential Shia cleric, Ansari is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Thousands of people participated in his funeral. Men and women were seen sobbing and wailing as Ansari’s body was taken in a procession from his Qamarwari residence to the family’s ancestral graveyard at Baba Mazaar, Zadibal.
Politicians cutting across party lines expressed condolences over his death.
In their separate messages, Governor Narendra Nath Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed condolences over Ansari’s death.
The chief minister visited Ansari’s residence where he expressed solidarity with the bereaved family, offered Fateh and prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul.
Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, Tanvir Sadiq, who was accompanying Omar also expressed solidarity with the bereaved family and with the followers of the Shia cleric.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad said Ansari was one of the rare political stalwarts who stood by people of the State in all the vicissitudes and endeavoured to serve, guide and lead them with determination.
PDP Patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti termed Ansari’s death as a great loss to the society.
“Molvi Sahib was a versatile personality who will be always remembered for his impeccability and praise worthy services to the society,” they said.
The PDP leaders said Ansari was not only a religious and spiritual leader of great repute but an outstanding political statesman as well.
“With the demise of Molvi Sahab, the State has lost a seasoned politician, outstanding Islamic scholar, wonderful orator and an outspoken advocate of unity,” they said.
Recalling his long association with the deceased, Mufti said: “He had been a lifelong friend and associate who would be missed always.”
Sayeed, his wife, and daughter Mehbooba Mufti, members of parliament, Muzzafar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Karra, other PDP legislators and senior leaders rushed to Ansari’s residence to share the grief of the family and Ansari’s followers.
Sayeed and PDP leadership also attended Ansari’s funeral.
Meanwhile, many Shia dominated areas of Kashmir observed a shutdown as a mark of respect for the deceased leader.
IFTIKHAR ANSARI: END OF AN ERA
Influential Shia cleric, politician and businessman, Moulana Iftikhar Hussain Ansari was born to Molvi Muhammad Jawad Hussain Ansari and Nissa Begum at Srinagar on April 26, 1940.
Iftikhar came from a distinguished family of religious scholars and spiritual personalities, Moulvi Haider Ali being his grandfather. He studied Islamic theology in Syria and Iraq. He received early education in Persian and Arabic from Lukhnow and pursued higher studies in Bukhara.
Iftikhar came to prominence when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah convened the All Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Convention in 1968.
He took over from his father, Molvi Jawad as president of All Jammu and Kashmir Shia Association after the latter’s death in 1957.
Iftikhar started his political career as a Congress leader in early 1960s and became a Member of Legislative Council in 1973. However, he switched over to Janata Party in 1977 and contested against Begum Akbar Jehan, wife of Sheikh Abdullah.
Following these elections, NC allegedly victimized the Shia community for Iftikhar’s decision of contesting against the wife of the party’s founder.
He returned to Congress in 1980s and was elected to the State assembly in 1983.
Iftikhar was chosen as leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the State Assembly and held the post between 1983 and 1987.
He was again elected in 1996, re-elected in 2002. Iftikhar quit Congress to join NC.
Being in NC, during which he was also a minister in Farooq Abdullah-led government, Iftikhar quit the party in 2006 to join PDP.
The Shia cleric won the election in 2008 on the PDP ticket and was nominated as the party candidate for Pattan assembly constituency for the forthcoming assembly elections. He was PDP’s senior vice-president.
An extraordinary orator, Iftikhar was a noted businessman with interest in car dealerships, Business Process Outsourcing, and telecommunications. He had a proficiency in several languages Kashmiri, Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English. He was fond of collecting books and was known to be a philanthropist in social life.
Iftikhar was also a founder member of Peoples Conference.
He was cousin of the Chairman of ittehad-ul-Muslimeen, Moulvi Muhammad Abbas Ansari.
Iftikhar survived three assassination bids on his life. In June 2000, Iftikhar barely escaped a landmine explosion while addressing a congregation at Gund Khwaja Qasim.
The blast killed 12 of his followers. On September 1, 2000, Iftikhar was injured in an IED explosion that killed two policemen and a driver.
Iftikhar died at his Dar-ul-Jawad residence in Qamarwari area of Srinagar on Tuesday (September 30) morning after a prolonged spell of illness due to liver cirrhosis.
Photos: internet media