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“NIA Allows Jailed Kashmiri Leader Engineer Rashid to Take Oath as MP”

New Delhi: In a significant development, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has granted permission to Engineer Rashid, a jailed Kashmiri leader, to take oath as a Member of Parliament (MP). Rashid, who emerged victorious in the recent general elections from Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency, has been in custody since August 2019 in a terror funding case.

The NIA’s consent comes on the eve of a Delhi court’s hearing on Rashid’s plea seeking bail to take oath as an MP. The court is scheduled to pass an order on July 2 regarding the interim bail plea filed by Rashid. Rashid’s counsel, Vikhyat Oberoi, had urged the court to allow him to take oath as an MP, citing his democratic mandate and the need for representation of his constituency.

The NIA has proposed three dates – July 5, 6, and 7 – for Rashid to take oath, but the defense counsel has requested that the oath-taking ceremony be held on July 5, as July 6 and 7 are holidays. The NIA has also asked the court to impose certain conditions on Rashid, including a ban on speaking with the media during the oath-taking ceremony. Rashid’s family members have also sought permission to attend the ceremony.

Rashid’s victory in the recent elections has been seen as a significant development in Jammu and Kashmir’s political landscape. His appearance on the electoral scene is likely to give jitters to traditional mainstream parties such as the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The 47-year-old leader, known for his outspoken views on Kashmir issues, had contested the elections as an independent candidate.

Rashid’s arrest in August 2019 was made in connection with a terror funding case registered by the NIA in 2017. He was accused of receiving funds from Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistan-based terrorist, to fuel unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Rashid has denied all charges and termed his arrest as “political vendetta”.

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