MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid, widely known as Engineer Rashid, was in news for moving a resolution in the state assembly seeking clemency to the Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.
After deciding to accept the resolution, the assembly had to discuss it and vote on September 28. However, the resolution was stalled due to ruckus created by BJP and congress legislatives over the cross-voting issue. Congress’s alliance partner National Conference and main opposition People’s Democratic Party silently watched as the house was adjourned.
The lapsed resolution submitted by the independent MLA Engineer Rashid cannot come up again in the current nine-day Assembly session.
A day after the resolution was stalled, wearing slippers and a worn out khan-dress, Engineer Rashid appeared outside the assembly and staged a sit in protest along with his supporters. As he sat on a dharna outside the assembly, he was dragged by policemen and forcibly lifted from the assembly gate and shifted to a security zone.
He received bruises in his neck and as his condition deteriorated, he was later taken to a nearby hospital. “What happened to my resolution proved (Syed Ali Shah) Geelani right, who describes us as nothing but puppets,” Rashid said as he tried to break the police cordon.
“When the NC and the PDP cannot pass a resolution how can they achieve autonomy and self-rule for Kashmiris.” Rashid said the government played the role assigned to it by New Delhi to ensure lapsing of his resolution. “This was a time to give credibility to the legislature, but we have once again proved that it is no good than a Mohalla committee and vindicated separatists’ claim that we are all mere puppets,” he said.
Rashid was once a supporter of the separatist Peoples Conference, then led by Abdul Ghani Lone. He fell apart from Lone’s son Sajad Lone as he decided to contest elections independently in 2008.
A resident of Langate in north Kashmir, Rashid, was once an Assistant Engineer with the J-K’s Projects Construction Corporation. He was allegedly forced into bonded labour for 90 days by the security forces in early 1990s near the Line of Control and asked to clear a mined road.
He raised the issue with SHRC and got a stay on forced labour by the security forces. The resolution had already generated controversy when state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “If Jammu and Kashmir assembly had passed a resolution similar to the Tamil Nadu for Afzal Guru, would the reaction have been as muted? I think not.” BJP had sharply reacted to Omar’s tweet.