This bone-chilling night, protesting Er Rashid will spend under open sky, at Gupkar

Tasavur Mushtaq / Muhammad Raafi

Srinagar

Er Rasheed on a sit-in protest outside CM Mehbooba’s Gupkar residence. (KL Image by Muhammad Raafi)

Langate lawmaker Engineer Abdul Rasheed is on a 48-hour sit-in outside the Fairview residence of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at Gupkar Srinagar. Lying exactly opposite to the gate of CM Mehbooba, Rasheed along with his twenty odd supporters is under the open sky, literally.

When Kashmir Life reporters talked to Rasheed at around 9 pm, the freezing cold and the nearby Dal Lake was bone-chilling. Only sign of warmth was the nearby gas heater which is symbolic and is not working.

Wrapped under the blanket and quilt, Rasheed is optimistic about his ‘struggle’. “Let us not lose hope,” he told Kashmir Life. He said it does not matter that people are sleeping at home in warm environs because “they have chosen leaders to lead them.”

His supporters are flaming up the Kangries (earthen fire pot), but the cold wave around is more than an extinguisher.

Er Rasheed on a sit-in protest outside CM Mehbooba’s Gupkar residence. (KL Image by Muhammad Raafi)

Superintendent of Police east, Sheikh Faisal Qayoom along with his men visited Rasheed and unlike the usual Police-Rasheed relationship, this one was peaceful and cordial. The top cop offered Rasheed any kind of assistance. “I am short of words, thank you,” Rasheed told Faisal. The accompanying policemen were talking to each other about what the lawmaker is doing, “it is too cold here, hope he survives, one told another while stretching his cap over his neck.

In an attempt to keep themselves warm, supporters of Rasheed tried to erect tent. The SSG guarding Fairview dismantled that, Rasheed alleged.

SP East Sheikh Faisal Qayoom visits Er Rasheed outside CM Mehbooba’s residence. (KL Image by Muhammad Raafi)

Kashmir Life contacted weatherman Sonum Lotus. The temperature he said at 8:30 pm was around 3 degree Celsius. Sonum further said that the night temperature would be around minus 5 to 6. Rasheed is hopeful of ‘survival’ as he has planned not to have dinner. “Solid food in such adverse weather conditions is fatal so I will have tea only,” he said.

A doctor told Kashmir Life that it could be fatal to sit under open sky in this extreme cold condition. Wishing not to be named, he said “there could be hypothermia, respiratory arrest, hypertension and even stroke.”  The doctor was surprised to know that a lawmaker is on road and that too near Dal. “Hope he has no underlying medical condition that could be fatal.”

Rasheed is known for his ‘different’ means of protests. This is his seventh night protest, he says.

Being candid, he is surprised to see “change of heart” about being allowed to hold sit-in. Suggestive Rasheed said that this is time to agitate and protest. “We have a goal. If we won’t stand up this time who else will.” This he said in an apparent reference to Hurriyat leadership.

Er Rasheed sipping a cup of tea. (KL Image by Muhammad Raafi)

Pertinently, Rasheed Friday started a sit-in protest organised against the issuing of domicile certificates to West Pakistan Refugees. The protest started at 11:30 am.

Workers of Rasheed’s  Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) joined the protest sit-in carrying banners and playcards reading ‘Refugees are Refugees, Deport them back to Pakistan’; ‘Issuing domicile certificates to them unacceptable’.

Inam-un-Nabi, the spokesperson of AIP said that the protest will continue for 48 hours.

On Thursday, Rasheed had organised a protest march against the same, however, police foiled the march and detained Rasheed in police station Kothi Bagh.

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