Early Times Report
Srinagar, May 17: Chief MinisterMehbooba Mufti's meeting with young entrepreneurs at her Fairview residence here on Monday evening threw up surprises, one after another.
From youth's "endless love" for former Chief Minister late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed to Peoples Democratic Party's affinity with some journalists, almost everything, including the "unexpected influence" which some government employees enjoy, was visible during the interaction.
Responding to an invite, around 40 young entrepreneurs and some aspiring businessmen had called on Mehbooba Mufti looking ahead for her support in their endeavors.
As other visitors started putting forth their issues, Mehbooba pointed towards one of the journalists from a TV channel sitting next to her, at the corner chair. She said he was a part of "our team" and that the youth could contact him for redressal of grievances.
But the moment the Chief Minister was about to explain his position in the party affairs, one of the government servants, Saadat Hussain instantly interrupted her only to "change the topic." "We will do it some other time," he said.
Saadat, accused of handling a Twitter account under name Ibne Battuta, to troll the then Omar Abdullah government, is a bank employee. After the change of guard, he was promoted to head the grievance cell in the Chief Minister's Secretariat, while opposition National Conference resorted to chest beating online over his elevation.
At the entrepreneurs meeting with Mehbooba, he looked confident enough to call the shots. "His strategically interrupting the Chief Minister, shows the influence he enjoys," said a PDP leader adding that the "well-wisher" journalist was to be inducted as Media Analyst with the Chief Minister's office in the coming days.
Even as almost all the visitors put forth their demands, one of them looked emotionally charged. Sajad Shah, a young businessman from old City, stood up looking at life-size poster of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed pinned on the meeting room wall. The poster, printed in vinyl, hung past the sofa where Mehbooba Mufti and her advisor Prof Amitabh Mattoo were sitting.
"The picture of this iconic man, an undisputed visionary, our beloved Mufti Sahib, shouldn't be pinned with four nails on the wall. His life-size portrait deserves the best of the frames. Today it I pledge to decorate each and every portrait of his, in best of the traditional Kashmiri frames, even if it means to cut both my arms," Sajad yelled as tears trickled down his eyes.
30-year-old Sajad, who is into furniture industry said late Mufti would always encourage businessmen like him to excel and that it was his duty to uphold the same love for the departed soul. "I won't frame his portraits to please anyone but my keep alive my conscience," said the businessman who has bagged award for exports in the USA.
His speech left Mehbooba emotional even as she and Amitabh Mattoo turned back, looking pensively at Mufti's photo and appreciated the young man's love for the departed soul.
Prominent hotelier Saddam Zaroo, and Commissioner Secretary Shailendra Kumar were among other prominent present on the occasion, believed to be facilitated by youth PDP leader, Waheed Ur Rehman Parra.
However, it remained a general complaint that only the "who's who" were invited whereas there was no representation of the commoners into business industry.
"Being rich and English speaking seems to have been the criteria," complained an entrepreneur, who was denied permission to attend the meeting. The entrepreneurs appealed Chief Minister to hold meetings where even "commoners of the industry are invited to express their views."