Srinagar: Born on May 22, 1959, Mehbooba Mufti is one of the most prolific and talented women politicians of the country and is currently a member of the Lok Sabha, representing her home constituency Anantnag.
She began with a law degree from Kashmir University but showed no signs of any flair for public life in the late 1980s, when bringing up two infant daughters-Iltija and Irtiqa-and the other travails of married life occupied her time. Her responsibilities only doubled after she split from her husband Javed Iqbal.
Iltija now works in London at the Indian High Commission while her younger sister Irtiqa is involved in the film industry. Mufti’s only brother Tassaduq Sayeed is a Cinematographer in the Hollywood and Bollywood and has lensed Bollywood blockbusters like Omkara and Kaminey. Their mother Gulshan Nazir Ara had unsuccessfully contested the 1996 Assembly elections.
Kashmiri separatist campaign burst into a major violence in 1989-90. In mid-1990s when horror stories of excesses and harassment by security forces and renegades working tandem with them began emanating from Kashmir Valley and parts of the State’s Jammu region, she chose to exhibit the “passionate side” of her nature.
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She would visit places to express her solidarity with the victims of violence including families of slain militants. With fiery gusto, she would lead demonstrations and even argue in full public view with Army officers accused of committing excesses on civilians.
This helped her to gain popularity and, in fact, her name soon became a byword for empathy and solace, mainly in south Kashmir.
Elections for the State Assembly were held in 1996 after a gap of nine years, and Mufti had already become proactively involved in the politics. She was elected to the Assembly from home constituency Bijbehara on Congress party ticket.
Her father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had just returned to the party he had left in 1987 to show his anger at the alliance the Congress had formed with National Conference, its traditional rival in the State. He had joined V.P. Singh’s Jan Morcha.
Farooq Abdullah’s NC was voted to power in J&K in the 1996 elections. Mufti quickly made a mark as the leader of the opposition in the State Assembly.
The Muftis again split from the Congress to form their own Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999 and Mufti became its vice-president.
She resigned her Assembly seat and went on to contest the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 from Srinagar but lost to NC’s Omar Abdullah.
In 2002 Assembly elections, she was elected from Pahalgam segment. PDP formed a coalition government with Congress with Sayeed as Chief Minister for three years on rotational basis.
While Sayeed was named as PDP’s patron, his daughter was formally elected the party president.
In 2004, Ms. Mufti won the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat to make it to Parliament for the first time. PDP, however, failed to win a single seat in 2009 Lok Sabha elections when she did not contest herself.
Earlier in 2008 elections, she won the Wacchi segment in South Kashmir to the State Assembly.
She was elected to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag again in 2014. She is now set to become the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir....