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Afzal issue moves beyond J&K assembly

india Updated: Sep 30, 2011 00:01 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Wearing shabby slippers, worn out and dull-coloured Khan suit, Kashmir's independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid, widely known as Engineer Rashid, hit the street with his supporters and staged a sit-in outside the Assembly on Thursday.

This came just a day after the resolution filed by Rashid on Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's mercy plea, was allowed to lapse in the state assembly because of the Congress and the BJP legislators' ruckus over the cross-voting issue, which is a subjudice matter.

"Since the issue is subjudice, I am constrained to announce status quo till the verdict comes. My action could influence or contradict the verdict that the court would give in due course of time while disposing of the case," said Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone on Thursday.

Rashid, who represent north Kashmir's Langate constituency, accused all the state's political parties of conspiring against the resolution. "The parties played a drama yesterday. Mehbooba (Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party) was watching silently as if (film) Sholay was on," said Rashid as he was dragged by the policemen immediately after he sat on a dharna to, what he calls, "unmask the real faces of the Kashmiri politicians and make people aware about them".

"Omar (Abdullah, J-K chief minister) was first person to tweet on Afzal Guru. He should learn from Jayalalithaa (Tamil Naidu chief minister), who did not tweet but passed a resolution for clemency (for those involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi). Stop tweeting Mr Abdullah," said Rashid.

Bruised in the neck, Rashid was lifted forcibly from the assembly gate and shifted to a security zone.

Earlier, more than two dozen Rashid's supporters shouting slogans 'hanging of Afzal not acceptable' were bundled into police vans as they alighted on the road.

"What happened to my resolution proved (Syed Ali Shah) Geelani right, who describes us as nothing but puppets. When the NC and the PDP cannot pass a resolution how can they achieve autonomy and self-rule for Kashmiris," said Rashid, who tried to sneak out from the police cordon several times but was restrained.

After three hours of sit-in, an NGO's ambulance was allowed to take Rashid to a nearby hospital as his health deteriorated.

"It is a worst kind of Marshall Law that will put Pakistan's former dictator Zia-ul-Haq to shame. They call it democracy. To hell with it," said shaking Rashid as ambulance drove away.

The MLA claimed that he will not resign on the issue as "the government will book me under the draconian Public safety Act (PSA) and send me to Tihar jail." No MLA from the assembly came out to rescue or join Rashid.

To the allegations of sitting silent in the assembly on Wednesday, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti told the HT that the speaker has sought cooperation for allowing the House to function without disruption.

Both hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderate J-K Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik have called for protest on Friday over the issue of Guru.

Who is Engineer Rashid

A resident of remote village of Langate in north Kashmir, Engineer Rashid (44), once an assistant engineer with the J-K's Projects Construction Corporation, was allegedly forced into bonded labour for 90 days by the security forces in early 1990s near the Line of Control and asked to clean road of IEDs. He raised the issue with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and got a stay on such alleged "forced labour" by the security forces.

Once a supporter of separatist Peoples Conference, then led by Abdul Ghani Lone, Rashid fell apart from Lone's son Sajad Lone as he decided to contest elections independently in 2008 to rake up human rights issues inside the assembly.

Married with three chidren, Rashid lives in a modest house in his village and has an adopted child too, who was a victim of militancy.

The police picked up Rashid in 2005 for allegedly supporting militants. Rashid captured news headline the same year when he participated in killed militants' funeral and at the same time paid tributes to slain security personnel.

Popular in his constituency, Rashid got many army-occupied road cleared in his area. During the 2010 unrest, he called upon public to not to pelt stones.