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In Kashmir on 29 December, 2005 at 3:51 am

Azad or Freedom is the name of the new chief minister of Kashmir. Ghulam Nabi Azad is his full name. He's married to a famous singer Shemeema Azad and has a young daughter.

A politician with a very strong base in the Congress party, he has held a good number of portfolios in the central government. Before assuming the highest chair in his native state, he had been the parliamentary affairs minister.

Once while talking to a person, who claimed to be a class fellow of his, much before he had become the chief minister, the person told me that Azad had a style of his own. On every big occasion he would be different than others. During Eid, he would be seen wearing a fine white shalwar kameez, a karakuli cap and a waist coat, which would go very well his personality. Doing this, he became quite popular in the university campus.

The emergency during Indira Gandhi's rule gave him the required impetus to be what he is, an inside man favored by the Gandhi family.

His policies so far in Kashmir have drawn appreciation so far from all aspects of the society. His attempts to hammer into the heads of the officials that they are being paid to work has drawn a wide response both from the officials, who have started to work, sluggishly as accepted, and from people, who see in him a person who can deliver more than well thought of dialogues as was the case with Mehbooba Mufti (please read as Mufti Syed).

But will the people be able to breath azad (free) air, in a valley inhabited by troops, militants, ghosts of past and Skeletons is yet to be seen.

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