Omar Abdullah and PDP in war of words after calls for Engineer Rashid’s release post his Lok Sabha win

Srinagar: A war of words has broken out between Omar Abdullah and the PDP after National Conference leader Omar Abdullah quoted an article in ‘The Print’ which said that the victory of Abdul Rashid Sheikh, who is currently in jail on terror funding charges, will empower secessionists and give Kashmir’s “defeated” Islamist movement a renewed sense of hope. Abdullah had lost the elections to Engineer Rashid from Baramulla.

“Rashid’s victory, without doubt, will empower secessionists and give Kashmir’s defeated Islamist movement a renewed sense of hope,” Omar Abdullah said in a post on X citing the said article.

“Efforts to draw secessionism back into electoral politics led New Delhi to support the rise of the People’s Democratic Party and its alliance with the BJP. That, however, ended up empowering violent secessionists, not mainstreaming them–a warning of the unpredictable outcomes of trying to manipulate politics,” he added in his post on X citing the article.

Omar Abdullah’s post on X drew sharp criticism from PDP’s Waheed Para who accused Abdullah of not acknowledging the people’s mandate.

“Extremely disappointed with Omar Abdullah’s regressive stance, echoing the divisive politics of 1987, and dubbing a democratic expression as an ‘Islamist wave’. His family’s history with the Muslim Conference clashes with calls for the exclusion of PDP, Er Rashid, and JEI, and will put Kashmir into perpetual conflict with the state. A more prudent approach, akin to Mehbooba Mufti’s plea for Engineer Rashid’s release, would have been an acknowledgement of the mandate,” Para said in a post on X.

Replying to the post Abdullah said that he had only cited a point of view and had spoken about Engineer Rashid’s release in his campaign.

“Waheed, I don’t normally get into any back-and-forth conversations here but this time I’ll make an exception. I spent my entire campaign talking about Engineer’s release & unlike his campaign, I talked about the release of the 1000s detained since 2019. The articles I’ve put here are not my views but they are a point of view. I may agree with parts, disagree with parts but they are an opinion. As for Rashid’s release, it’s a matter for the courts as it is in all such cases. I didn’t agree with Rashid’s detention in the first place & I don’t agree with it now but that’s neither here nor there because it shouldn’t be just about one man but about the 1000s in jail, including the anonymous ones outside J&K,” Omar replied on X.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Rashid Sheikh, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, ran as an independent candidate for the Baramulla seat and defeated Omar Abdullah. He secured victory with a margin of 204142 votes and received 47,2481 votes.

Earlier, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and PDP Chief, Mehbooba Mufti, congratulated Engineer Rashid on Wednesday and urged the government to respect the people’s verdict, calling for his release.

“Heartfelt congratulations to Mian Altaf, Aga Ruhullah, Engineer Rashid & Haneefa Jan for winning the parliament elections. Government of India must respect the verdict of the people & release Engineer Rashid,” Mufti said in a post on X.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha election, besides Rashid winning the Baramulla seat, the National Conference and the BJP won two seats each in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP did not field any candidate in Kashmir.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *