Jailed leader Engineer Rashid to contest Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla seat

The firebrand Kashmiri leader was arrested by the National Investigation Agency two days before the revocation of Article 370

March 20, 2024 07:50 pm | Updated 07:50 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Engineer Abdul Rashid. File.

Engineer Abdul Rashid. File. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Jailed Kashmiri politician Engineer Rashid, 57, was nominated as the Awami Ittehad Party’s (AIP) candidate for the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat in north Kashmir on March 20.  

The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the AIP, founded by Mr. Rashid, “unanimously” decided to field the party chief as Lok Sabha candidate. 

“The PAC decided Er. Rashid will contest elections from the Baramulla seat. We are hopeful he will be released before the elections. If God forbid Mr. Rashid is not released, he will contest from the Tihar Jail, where he is lodged right now,” AIP spokesman Firdous Baba said.

Mr. Baba said the Indian Constitution allows an accused to contest elections, if he is not convicted. 

The firebrand Kashmiri leader was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) two days before the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, and later booked under several sections of the UAPA. The AIP termed the case against Mr. Rashid as “politically motivated charges”.

Mr. Rashid’s re-entry into the electoral battlefield of north Kashmir is likely to upset poll calculus of both rival Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference and Sajjad Lone’s Jammu Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC). He threw a surprise during the 2019 Parliament polls by bagging 1.01 lakh votes as an Independent candidate. He was just 31,192 votes behind the winning candidate of the NC and mere 827 votes less than JKPC’s candidate. Both the NC and the JKPC consider north Kashmir as their bastions. JKPC has already nominated the party president Mr. Lone as its candidate for the seat. The NC is yet to name its candidate.

Mr. Rashid once applied for bail immediately after his detention. It was rejected by the session court. However, Mr. Rashid decided not to challenge the order. 

An engineer by profession, Mr. Rashid resigned from the government services in 2008, fought against forced labour of locals by security forces and contested Assembly elections to represent Langate constituency in north Kashmir. 

Always dressed in trademark Khan suits, Mr. Rashid landed into many controversies in the past. He brought a resolution in the J&K Assembly, seeking mercy for Afzal Guru. He was beaten up inside the J&K Assembly by BJP legislators in 2015. He faced an ink attack in Delhi when he accompanied the family of a slain truck driver, killed by a mob in Udhampur, to the national capital. 

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