SRINAGAR: Prominent Shia cleric and Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MLA Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari died here on Tuesday at the age of 74 following protracted illness.
A four-time MLA from Pattan in North Kashmir, Ansari breathed his last in the wee hours after battling an ailment for more than a year, his family said.
Survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter, the PDP legislator was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard in Zadibal area in the city.
His body was taken in a procession from his residence at Qammarwari to the graveyard.
Beginning his career as a Congress leader in early 1960s, Ansari became a member of the state Legislative Council on the Congress ticket in 1973. However, he switched over to Janata Party in 1977.
Born on April 26, 1940, Ansari returned to the Congress in 1980s and was the Leader of its Legislature Party from 1983 to 1987.
After a brief stay in the National Conference, during which he was also a minister in the Farooq Abdullah government, Ansari quit the party in 2006 and joined the PDP.
Leaders across political spectrum condoled his death with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah saying his contributions both as a religious leader and a public representative will be remembered for long.
“His untimely demise has left a void that will be long felt,” the Chief Minister, who visited his residence, said.
Leader of the 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 and elan.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today deeply condoled the demise of veteran religious, spiritual and political leader, Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, who breathed his last on Tuesday. He was PDP’s senior vice-president and MLA representing Pattan constituency in Baramulla district.
In a statement, Party Patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and President, Mehbooba Mufti termed the death of Ansari as a great loss to the society. “Molvi Sahib was a versatile personality who will be always remembered for his impeccability and praiseworthy services to the society,” said the PDP leaders.
The leaders said that the deceased was not only a religious and spiritual leader of great repute but an outstanding political statesman as well. “As a young scholar he had studied in Iraq as well as Iran and he was man of words with in-depth knowledge on varied subjects ranging from politics to religious philosophy”, the leaders added.
“With the demise of Molvi Sahib the state has lost a seasoned politician, outstanding Islamic scholar, wonderful orator and an outspoken advocate of unity,” they said.
Immediately on hearing the demise of Ansari, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Begum Mufti Sayeed, Mehbooba Mufti, Members of Parliament, Muzzafar Hussain Baig and Tariq Hameed Karra besides other legislators and senior leaders rushed to his residence to share the grief of the family.
Later Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the entire leadership of the party and workers in large numbers from all over the Valley participated in Molvi’s funeral procession and Jinaza at Zadibal where Molvi Sahib was laid to rest in his ancestral graveyard.
Governor, N.N Vohra and Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah have expressed grief over the sad demise of Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, Member, J and K Legislative Assembly and President of All J&K Shia Association.
In the condolence message, the Governor expressed heartfelt grief on the demise of Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari whom he had known for many years. He prayed for peace to the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family in this hour of sadness.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah visited the residence of the late leader and expressed his solidarity with the bereaved family, conveyed his sympathy, offered Fateh and prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul.
Omar Abdullah also expressed solidarity with the devotees and followers of the late religious leader and conveyed his condolence to them on this hour of grief.
Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, Tanveer Sadiq accompanied the Chief Minister. He also mourned the untimely and sad demise of late Moulana Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.
Meanwhile, Chairman, Legislative Council, Amrit Malhotra, Speaker, Legislative Assembly, Mubarak Gul, Minister for Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar and Minister for Higher Education, Mohammad Akbar Lone also expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of Ansari.
Former Union Minister and President, J and K Pradesh Congress Committee, Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz also expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of veteran political and Shia leader, Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.
In his condolence message, Soz said, “I express my deepest anguish at the passing away of Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari. Ansari was a prominent political leader of Jammu and Kashmir who served the State in different capacities and to the best of his ability. His death has created void in the State which can never be filled.”
Soz extended deepest condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for peace to the departed soul.
A condolence meeting of Anjuman-e- Imamia Jammu was held on Tuesday at Imam Bargah Sofi Shah Peer Mitha to condole the demise of Maulana Iftikhar Hussain Ansari.
President Anjuma-e-Imamia Syed Amanat Ali Shah lauded the efforts made by Maulana Iftikhar Hussain Ansari for the uplift of the Shia community in J and K State. He also said that his death would be a great loss to community in general and particularly for the people of Kashmir.
Secretary Anjuman Jammu, Prof. Shujat Khan said that community has lost a great visionary. It is his teachings that the youth of our community have excelled in every walk of life.
Those who spoke include Maulana Syed Abul Kasim Rizvi, Ashiq Hussain Khan, Dr. Dilawar, Sohail Mir, Ajaz Mohd Mir and Syed Kazmi Hussain Anjum.