Omar Abdullah
Omar Abdullah

SRINAGAR — The political turf in Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a surge of tension following the victory of Engineer Rashid in the Baramulla constituency. National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah’s remarks about the election outcome have sparked a heated debate, with People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Waheed-Ur-Rehman Para strongly criticizing Abdullah’s stance.

Omar Abdullah, as per the news agency KNO, expressed concern on Thursday that Engineer Rashid’s triumph could strengthen separatist ideology and reinvigorate the Islamic movement in Kashmir.

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“Rashid’s victory will, without any doubt, empower the separatists and give a ray of hope to the defeated Islamic movement in Kashmir,” Omar stated on Twitter. He linked this outcome to the broader political strategy of integrating separatists into mainstream politics, a move, as per him, that has historically backfired.

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Engineer Rashid, also known as Abdul Rashid Sheikh, is currently incarcerated on militancy funding charges. Despite his imprisonment, he secured the Baramulla seat with a margin of over 200,000 votes, defeating prominent figures including Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone. Rashid garnered a total of 472,481 votes.

In response to Omar’s comments, Waheed Para of the PDP voiced his disappointment, accusing Abdullah of refusing to accept the democratic mandate.

“I am extremely disappointed by Omar Abdullah’s regressive stance, which is reminiscent of the divisive politics of 1987 and labelling democratic expression as ‘Islamic wave’. His (Omar’s) family’s history with the Muslim Conference has been to oust PDP, Engineer Rashid, and JeI (Jamaat-e-Islami). Also, it has been increasing the conflict between Kashmir and the Centre,” Para stated.

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Para further argued that a more prudent approach, similar to Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal for Rashid’s release, would have been more appropriate.

Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP chief, congratulated Engineer Rashid and called for his release.

“Hearty congratulations to Mian Altaf, Agha Ruhullah, Engineer Rashid, and Hanifa Jaan for winning the Parliament elections. The Indian government should respect the people’s decision and release Engineer Rashid,” Mufti posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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