‘Rashid’s win will empower secessionists in J&K’: Omar shares news article, draws flak

Abdullah was defeated by Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as ‘Engineer Rashid’, who is jailed under the UAPA, by more than two lakh votes in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections

Srinagar: A controversy erupted after National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Thursday posted a news article on a social media platform that suggested Engineer Rashid’s win in the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat will empower “secessionists”.



The row broke out after a private television news agency attributed the excerpts of the article shared by the NC leader to him. It triggered reactions from mainstream politicians in Jammu and Kashmir, including PDP’s Waheed Para.

Abdullah was defeated by Sheikh Abdul Rashid, popularly known as ‘Engineer Rashid’, who is jailed under the UAPA, by more than two lakh votes in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.

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The National Conference (NC) leader had conceded defeat and congratulated Rashid on his win.

“The ‘big loser’ tag certainly hurts but it’s an election, you win some you lose some and life goes on,” Abdullah posted on X on Thursday, a day after attending an INDIA bloc meeting in Delhi.

This reaction was after some news articles referred to him and others as the “big losers” of the Lok Sabha polls.



Recalling the his school’s song, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said on X, “…I sang (this) as part of my school song for years, still holds true today.”

“Never give in is our motto; strive till the set of sun; And we learn it’s truth; In the days of youth on the long Hodson run; For though your heart seems bursting; Up Sergeant Tilly’s hill; THOUGH YOU MAY NOT WIN; YOU’LL YET COME IN; if you stick it still,” he posted.

According to the Lawrence School Sanawar’s website, the song was written by Henry Bickersteth Durrant, Bishop of Lahore, and set to the music by Bandmaster A Swann between the 1923 and 1925. Its official title was ‘The Best School of All’.



Taking a dig at Abdullah for sharing the news article, PDP youth president Para posted on X, “Extremely disappointed with @OmarAbdullah’s regressive stance, echoing the divisive politics of 1987, and dubbing a democratic expression as an ‘Islamist wave’.”

“His family’s history with the Muslim Conference clashes with calls for the exclusion of PDP, Er Rashid, and JEI, and will put Kashmir into perpetual conflict with the State. A more prudent approach, akin to @MehboobaMufti’s plea for Er Rashid’s release, would have been acknowledgment of mandate,” Para posted on X.

In a quick reply, Abdullah said he had himself been an advocate for the release of not only Engineer Rashid but the thousands of others who were languishing in jails.



“Waheed I don’t normally get into any back and forth conversations here but this time I’ll make an exception. I spent my entire campaign talking about Engineer’s release and unlike his campaign I talked about the release of the 1000s detained since 2019,” he said.

“The articles I’ve put here are not my views but they are a point of view. I may agree with parts, disagree with parts but they are an opinion. As for Rashid’s release, it’s a matter for the courts as it is in all such cases,” Abdullah said.

“I didn’t agree with Rashid’s detention in the first place and I don’t agree with it now but that’s neither here nor there because it shouldn’t be just about one man but about the 1000s in jail, including the anonymous ones outside Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

People’s Conference president Sajad Gani Lone, who barely managed to save his security deposit in the Lok Sabha polls in the Baramulla seat, has gone on a sabbatical for a “few days”.

“I will be away for a few days. Taking a break to step back, pause and reflect. Winning and losing is part of life. A setback, Yes, but should it allow us to lose sight of our larger goal – the empowerment of our people, their dignity, development and making their voices heard – No! Elections were merely a vehicle towards this larger goal, never an end in itself,” Lone posted on X.

He said the electoral setback will only reinvigorate his party and strengthen their commitment and conviction towards realizing the collective goals.