Ex-minister Mohammed Sharief Niaz passes away

Former Minister and senior Congress leader from Bhaderwah, Mohammed Sharief Niaz breathed his last at GMC Jammu hospital on Monday.

Niaz (75) was admitted in the Isolation Ward of the GMC on September 21 after he had complained of illness. He had tested negative for COVID19, an official said. Niaz had unsuccessfully contested elections from Inderwal Assembly constituency in 1983. However, in 1987 mid-term polls from the same Assembly, he won and became minister of state in National Conference–Congress coalition government. He remained the minister till 1989.

In 1996, Niaz was again given a party ticket from Inderwal by Congress, but he declined to contest elections. In 2002, he successfully contested from Bhaderwah Assembly constituency and went on to become the PDD minister.

In February 2007, he became MLC of Congress in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2009, Niaz again got elected as MLA from Bhaderwah. However, in 2014, he unsuccessfully contested from Bhaderwah. Niaz, son of Abdullah Bhat, was a resident of Gandoh and at present was residing at Bathindi in Jammu district.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor (LG), Manoj Sinha conveyed his condolences on the demise of Niaz. In a condolence message, the LG prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul and forbearance to the bereaved family in this hour of grief.

Leaders from various political parties also expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of Niaz. Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, in a statement said: “The deceased was not only a person of unimpeachable integrity but also a hardworking Congress leader.  Besides being a family member, he was a trustworthy public representative.” “The deceased was down-to-earth and a true source of inspiration. Though initially he was a teacher, later he preferred to serve his people as a social activist and contested elections to represent the people of state in general and people of Chenab valley in particular,” he said.  “Being my cousin, his sudden demise is a personal loss to me and has also left a vacuum in the party,” Azad said.

National Conference President, Farooq Abdullah, and party Vice President, Omar Abdullah also prayed for peace to the departed soul and fortitude to bereaved family. The duo also expressed unison with the grief-stricken family.

The party General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar and provincial President, Nasir Aslam Wani also expressed grief and prayed for peace to the departed soul. The party’s provincial President Devender Singh Rana, in a message, described Niaz as a sober and gentle human being.

 “With his passing away, a vacuum is created in the political arena of Jammu and Kashmir in general and Doda-Kishtwar area in particular, which is hard to be filled,” he said, adding that the deceased has left an imprint of public service with a sense of commitment.

Rana expressed solidarity with the bereaved family and prayed for peace to the departed soul. He also prayed for strength to the family to bear the loss.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Firdous Ahmad Tak, in a statement, described Niaz’s demise as an irreparable loss to J&K.  “Niaz Sahab was a thorough gentleman, who held the cause of people’s welfare close to his heart. He worked relentlessly for marginalized sections of the society and contributed greatly to the efforts of development of far-flung areas of Chenab valley in particular,” he said.

 “Niaz Sahab’s contribution as a legislator and minister,” he said, “would always be remembered. PDP stands in solidarity with the family of Niaz Sahab in this hour of grief and we pray for eternal peace to his soul,” Tak said. Apni Party President, Altaf Bukhari, in his condolence message, described the deceased as a thorough gentleman who had carved a place for himself among people, his party and the J&K legislature.

“I am deeply saddened at the passing away of Niaz Saheb. As a senior, cultured and humane leader, he was a valued politician who enriched state legislature during his stint in the power,” Bukhari said.

He said the deceased leader always held the interest of people close to his heart. “At this time of grief my thoughts and prayers are with his family and supporters. I pray for the eternal peace to the departed soul and the forbearance for his family to face this difficult time,” Bukhari said.

Other party leaders who also condoled the demise of Niaz included Ghulam Hassan Mir, Aijaz Ahmad Khan, Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas, Usman Majid, Rafi Ahmad Mir, Vijay Bakaya, Vikram Malhotra, Abdul Majeed Padder, Muhammad Ashraf Mir, Manjit Singh, Javid Hassan Baig and others. Senior party leader Muhammed Dilawar Mir and others including GM Bhawan, Choudhary Qamar Hussain and Yawar Dilawar also condoled the demise.