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Pro-India Kashmiri leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed dies at 79

Published 07/01/2016

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died at the age of 79 at a hospital in New Delhi (AP)
Mufti Mohammed Sayeed died at the age of 79 at a hospital in New Delhi (AP)

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a top elected pro-India leader of Kashmir who tried to win over insurgent groups in the troubled region, has died of pneumonia aged 79.

Mr Sayeed, who took over as the top elected official of the region in March last year, was admitted to hospital in the Indian capital, New Delhi, two weeks ago.

He died on Thursday, said his party leader and Kashmir state Education Minister Nayeem Akhter.

Mr Sayeed is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. Mehbooba Mufti, one of his daughters, is expected to succeed him as the chief minister of the Indian portion of Kashmir.

His body will be taken to Srinagar, the main city in Kashmir, and then buried in his ancestral village, said Mr Akhter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Mr Sayeed "provided a healing touch to Kashmir through his leadership".

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir, divided between them since 1947.

He advocated a dialogue with Pakistan to settle the dispute, and sought to promote trade and travel between the divided parts of the Himalayan region.

At the start of insurgency in the Indian portion of Kashmir in 1989, rebels abducted one of Mr Sayeed's daughters. He was India's home minister at the time.

His daughter was later freed in exchange for the Indian government releasing five militants from prison.

Mr Sayeed became the chief minister of the Indian portion of Kashmir, with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party as a junior partner in the government after no single party won a clear majority in state elections.

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