Saifuddin Soz (Kashmiri: सैफ़ुद्दीन सोज़, سیف الدین سوز) (born November 23, 1937) is an Indian professor and a long-time Member of the Parliament of India. Soz hails from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He had been India's Minister of Water Resources in India's 14th Lok Sabha and Minister of Environment and Forests in the 1990s. In January 2006, he was nominated to the Congress Working Committee, the executive committee of the Indian National Congress.
Soz was born in Sopore, a township in the northern Kashmir Valley. He worked his way to completing a Master's degree in economics from the University of Kashmir, where he later held the position of registrar. He held teaching positions in many colleges affiliated with the University of Kashmir before taking on the position of registrar of the university. From there, Soz moved to the Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education (BOSE), a government department responsible for administration of schools. Soz sought voluntary retirement from government service to enter politics in 1983. At that time, he was Secretary of the BOSE.
In 1983 Lok Sabha election, Soz contested and won the Baramulla seat as a candidate of the ruling Jammu and Kashmir National Conference party. At the time, the JKNC was headed by Dr. Farooq Abdullah. Soz went on to win three more Lok Sabha elections as a member of the JKNC. He also represented the JKNC and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha in the mid-'90s. In 1997-98, he became India's Minister of Environment and Forests in the cabinet of Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral. During 1998-99, Soz served in the same capacity under Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda. At the time, the JKNC was part of the United Front government ruling India. In 1999, Soz resigned and was expelled from the JKNC for voting against the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Soz was a JKNC member of parliament and defied his party's leadership. His vote brought the BJP government down which led the then Prime Minister to tender his resignation.
In 2003, Soz joined the Congress party and was elected to the Rajya Sabha. In January 2006, he was inducted into the ministry of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as Minister of Water Resources, a position he held until early 2009. Soz was appointed President of the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh (state) Congress Committee in February 2008. He was also one of the front runners for the post of Vice-President of India in 2007 and 2012.
A US diplomatic cable leaked by the whistle blowing website Wikileaks claimed that Saifuddin Soz was facilitating a discreet dialogue between Indian government and separatist leaders before 2006. The cable sent by then US Ambassador to India David Mulford to State Department in US, describes Soz as a long standing ‘contact’ of the (US) Embassy’s political section.
Soz is married to Mumtazunnisa. He has two sons and one daughter. His son Salman Anees Soz is a national spokesperson for the Indian National Congress.
Soz has written and edited several books including:
- Kashmir Crisis (Soz, Saifuddin (ed). 1993, LC Control No.: 93907156: http://lccn.loc.gov/93907156),
- Why Autonomy to Kashmir (Soz, Saifuddin (ed). 1995, LC Control No.: 95910487: http://lccn.loc.gov/95910487),
- Secularism - an Interpretation,
- 'Daj' (A play in Kashmiri on abuses of Dowry system).
He also translated M. Illin's book 1,00,000 Whys from Russian to Kashmiri, an effort for which he received the Soviet Land Nehru Award. He has written essays and short stories in Kashmiri, several articles in reputed newspapers and journals on a variety of subjects like Islam and modernism, rights of women, secularism, literature, education and economics. He is also the recipient of several literary awards including Soviet Land Nehru Award, All India Basic Literature Competition Award and Competition for Literature for Neo-Literates Award.