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Omar Abdullah Warns Engineer Rashid’s Victory Will Empower Secessionists in J&K

New Delhi, June 6: Jammu Kashmir National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who recently lost his seat in the Lok Sabha polls, has expressed concerns over the victory of Abdul Rashid Sheikh, also known as Engineer Rashid. Currently incarcerated on terror funding charges, Rashid’s triumph, according to Abdullah, could invigorate secessionist movements and revive Kashmir’s Islamist faction.

Omar Abdullah, who contested from the Baramulla constituency, was defeated by Engineer Rashid. He took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice his apprehensions, stating, “Rashid’s victory, without doubt, will empower secessionists and give Kashmir’s defeated Islamist movement a renewed sense of hope.”

Abdullah further critiqued the political strategies employed by New Delhi, suggesting that efforts to integrate secessionism into electoral politics by backing parties like the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and their alliance with the BJP have inadvertently strengthened violent secessionist elements. He warned of the unpredictable consequences of such political maneuvers.

His remarks have sparked controversy, drawing sharp criticism from Waheed Para of the PDP. Para accused Abdullah of undermining the democratic mandate of the people, labeling Abdullah’s stance as regressive and reminiscent of divisive politics from the past.

Para emphasized that acknowledging the election results is crucial for maintaining democratic integrity. He highlighted the historical context of Abdullah’s own family with the Muslim Conference and criticized the exclusionary calls against the PDP, Engineer Rashid, and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI). Para suggested that Abdullah’s approach would perpetuate conflict between Kashmir and the state.

In contrast, Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP Chief, congratulated Engineer Rashid on his victory. She urged the government to respect the people’s verdict and called for Rashid’s release, emphasizing the need to honor democratic outcomes.

Engineer Rashid, running as an independent candidate, secured the Baramulla seat with a significant margin of 204,142 votes, amassing a total of 472,481 votes. His victory is seen as a notable event in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Besides Rashid’s win in Baramulla, the National Conference and the BJP each won two seats in Jammu and Kashmir, with the BJP notably refraining from fielding any candidates in the Kashmir region. Mehbooba Mufti’s call for Rashid’s release and her congratulatory message reflect a push for political reconciliation and respect for electoral results in the region.

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