Kashmiri leader released from jail for 2 hours to take oath in India

IOK - Indian Occupied Kashmir Jammu & Kashmir

SRINAGAR: A jailed Kashmiri leader has been granted a two-hour custody parole so that he could take oath as a member of Indian parliament on July 5, Indian media outlets reported on Tuesday.

A day earlier, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) had given its nod for Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, to take oath in parliament on July 5.

The agency said the interim bail was subject to some conditions, which includes that the jailed parliamentarian shall not talk to the media.

Rashid won elections for India’s lower house of parliament from the northern Indian illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) constituency of Baramulla, defeating two political heavyweights — former chief minister Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone, son of a former pro-freedom leader with a sizable support base in the constituency.

Campaigning for the election was led by Rashid’s two young sons, Abrar Rashid and Asrar Rashid, which drew a lot of youths, especially first-time voters, with many of them saying their vote could lead to his release.

Fighting as an independent candidate, Rashid swept most of the electoral segments in the constituency. He had pleaded for interim bail or custody parole to take oath as a member of parliament. He was elected to the legislative assembly of IIOJK as an independent candidate twice, in 2008 and 2014, and unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Indian parliamentary polls.

Subsequently, he founded his own party, the Awami Ittehad Party. The abrogation of IIOJK’s limited political autonomy in on Aug. 5, 2019 by New Delhi saw the detention and arrest of scores of both pro-freedom leaders and local politicians. Rashid is among those who believe in Indian claims over the disputed region.

Like some pro-freedom leaders, however, Rashid has been charged with funding terror activities under the harsh Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the NIA.

“The trial is dragging on. But our priority for now is the interim bail so he could take oath,” Firdous Baba, a spokesman of Awami Ittehad Party, told Anadolu.__Tribune.com