Two former CMs lose; BJP, NC share two seats, Ind gets one

Eng Rasheed, Aga Ruhullah, Mian Altaf first time MPs from Kashmir

Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, June 4: In a major surprise, the jailed Independent candidate from Baramulla Parliamentary constituency, Abdul Rashid Sheikh alias Engineer Rasheed, who is facing terror charges today defeated former Chief Minister and National Conference president Omar Abdullah by a huge margin of over 2 lakh votes.

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People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and another former Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, also lost to NC candidate Mian Altaf Ahmad, by a huge margin of over 2.8 lakh votes from Anantnag-Rajouri constituency while the NC leader Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi defeated PDP candidate Waheed Ur Rehman Para from Srinagar by a margin of over 1.8 lakh votes.
The Baramulla Parliamentary constituency where the close contest was expected between Abdullah and former minister and Peoples Conference (PC) leader Sajjad Gani Lone, however, witnessed a different scene as the Independent candidate and a jailed leader Er Rasheed emerged victorious from the seat.
Er Rasheed is a former two-time MLA from Langate Assembly constituency in Kupwara. He has been in Tihar Jail for last five years facing terror funding charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

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Sheikh leads the Awami Ittehad Party, but he chose to contest as an Independent candidate. He bagged 472481 votes and defeated his close rival Omar Abdullah by a margin of 204142 votes, who secured a total of 268339 votes while Sajjad Lone got only 173239 votes.
The credit for Sheikh’s victory is being attributed to the vigorous and emotional election campaign run by his two sons Abrar Rasheed and Asrar Rasheed across Baramulla constituency.
Sheikh was leading right from the first round of counting and his lead continued to increase with each passing round of counting.
A resident of Langate Handwara in frontier Kupwara district, Sheikh’s political career began in 2008, when he quit his job as an Engineer with the Jammu and Kashmir Government to contest the Assembly elections as an Independent candidate. Before joining politics, he was seen as a champion of human rights in his area. He was a close aide of Sajad Lone’s father Abdul Gani Lone.
Sheikh’s son Abrar Rashid thanked people of the constituency for voting for his father. “I am indebited to the people for supporting my jailed father,” he said.
Omar Abdullah while conceding his defeat wrote: “I think it’s time to accept the inevitable. Congratulations to Engineer Rasheed for his victory in North Kashmir. I don’t believe his victory will hasten his release from prison nor will the people of North Kashmir get the representation they have a right to but the voters have spoken and in a democracy that’s all that matters.”
Engineer Rasheed took lead in Karnah, Trehgam, Kupwara, Lolab, Langate, Sopore, Rafiabad, Uri, Baramulla, Gulmarg, Wagoora-Kreeri, Sonawari, Bandipora and Beerwah Assembly segments, the NC candidate Omar Abdullah took lead in Gurez, Pattan and Budgam Assembly constituencies while Sajjad Lone took lead in Handwara seat.
In Anantnag-Rajouri seat, Mian Altaf Ahmad secured 521836 votes and defeated his close rival and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti by a huge margin of 281794 votes.
Mehbooba secured only 240,042 votes, followed by Apni Party’s Zafar Iqbal Khan Manhas, who bagged 142195 votes only.
Ahmad while speaking to Excelsior thanked the voters for putting trust in them by casting their ballots in their favour. “During my election campaign, I saw the interest of people in me and was sure about my win,” he added.
He vowed to fulfil all his promises made during the election campaign. “This victory was by a very high margin. Anantnag-Rajouri was a prestigious seat in Lok Sabha elections. All eyes were on this seat,” he said.
Mehbooba while conceding her defeat said that she respects the verdict of the people and thanked the them for their support. “Respecting the verdict of the people I thank my PDP workers & leaders for their hard work & support despite all the odds. My deepest gratitude to the people who voted for me. Winning & losing is part of the game & wont deter us from our path. Congratulations to Mian Sahab for his victory,” she wrote on X
NC candidate Main Altaf took huge lead in Rajouri, Nowshera, Thannamandi-Darhal, Budhal, Surankote, Mendhar and Poonch Parliamentary segments of Anantnag-Rajouri constituency.
In Srinagar, Aga Syed Ruhulla Mehdi emerged victorious by a huge margin of 1.80 lakh votes. He secured 356866 votes and defeated his rival from PDP with a margin of 188416 votes, who bagged 168450 votes. Apni Party candidate, Muhammad Ashraf Mir, however, secured only 65954 votes.
Ruhullah said that he will strongly raise the issue of whatever was snatched from the people of J&K and also its restoration as well. “My stand cannot change in a night. I will stick to my ideology for which people have voted in my favour,” he said.
On Abdullah’s defeat, Ruhullah said that the verdict thrown by the people had to be accepted. “I will also raise the issue of youngsters, who are behind the bars and will come up to the expectations of the people,” he added
In the meantime, there were huge celebrations by NC workers in Anantnag, Srinagar and Budgam after their candidate won from Anantnag-Rajouri and Srinagar Parliamentary constituencies. There were also huge celebrations in the Langate area of Handwara by the supporters of Engineer Rasheed.
The NC candidate from Srinagar took lead in Kangan, Ganderabal, Hazratbal, Khanyar, Habba Kadal, Lal Chowk, Chanpora, Zadibal, Eidgah, Central Shalteng, Khansahib, Charar-e-Sharief, Chadoora, Pampore, Tral and Shopian Assembly segments while PDP candidate took lead in Pulwama and Rajpora constituencies.

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