Opposition PDP MLA in Jammu and Kashmir assembly and prominent Shia cleric, Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari died here on Tuesday following prolonged illness. He was 74.
"Mouvli Iftikhar Ansari died in the wee hours on Tuesday after battling an ailment for more than a year," a relative of the deceased PDP leader said.
The four-time MLA from Pattan assembly segment, Ansari has a huge following amongst Shias in the state. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Born on April 26, 1940, he studied Islamic theology in Iran, Egypt and Iraq.
Starting his political career in 1960s, Ansari was nominated as an MLC in 1973 on Congress ticket but switched to Janata Party in 1977.
He returned to Congress in 1980s and was chosen as leader of the Legislature party in the state assembly from 1983 to 1987.
He was again elected to the state legislative assembly in 1996 on a Congress ticket and became a minister in the National Conference (NC) government led by Farooq Abdullah.
Ansari joined the NC in 2002 and was elected from Pattan assembly segment later that year but quit the party in 2006 to join the PDP. He lost the by-election.
The Shia cleric won the election in 2008 on PDP ticket and was nominated as the party candidate for the forthcoming assembly elections scheduled to be held later this year.
Upon hearing the news of his death, thousands of Ansari's supporters thronged his residence at Qammarwari in the city.
The huge influx of mourners led the authorities to divert traffic between Bemina and Parimpora crossings, causing massive traffic snarls.
Many areas, dominated by Shias, shutdown as a mark of respect to the departed leader.