Mainstream politician and member of legislative assembly from Langate, Engineer Rasheed, has supported a campaign for the release of jailed militant commander Dr Qasim Faktoo, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of human rights activist HN Wanchoo in 1992.
On Friday, Rasheed joined students, professionals and pro-freedom leaders and signed on a broad flex sheet erected at the Pratap Park in the heart of summer capital Srinagar.
"Dr Qasim's detention is a clear human rights violation. He has been in jail for more than 20 years now. For how long more will he remain in jail?" the legislator told the Hindustan Times.
"Salman Khan was granted bail in no time, but (Dr Qasim) Faktoo will remain in jail for ever. What kind of justice system do we have?'' Rasheed added.
Engineer Rashid, who has been known for what many call "soft separatism", has often been in the news for taking a stand at variance with typical mainstream politicians.
He was pro-active in seeking the return of the mortal remains of hanged separatist Afzal Guru to the Valley and even submitted a resolution in the assembly, but failed as the resolution was not tabled.
Earlier this month, Rasheed supported a strike by separatist groups JKLF and Hurriyat Conference against the proposed setting up of separate townships for the Pandit community in the Kashmir Valley.
'Targeted for political beliefs'
The signature campaign by Faktoo's party, the Muslim Deeni Mahaz, was launched on Wednesday.
Arrested in 1993, Faktoo is the husband of firebrand separatist leader and head of the Dukhtaran-e-Millat (daughters of faith), Asiya Andrabi.
He is perhaps among the longest-serving prisoners in the Valley. In 2012, the Jammu and Kashmir high court dismissed a petition seeking directions for Faktoo's release and insisted that life imprisonment meant jail till one's death.
Faktoo has, however, maintained that he was not in the state on December 5 1992, when Wanchoo was killed and has maintained that he has been targeted for his political beliefs.
"I returned on December 8 and condemned his killing in unequivocal terms,'' Faktoo's petition in the high court had read.