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Home Union Territory Baramulla: In jail since 2019, Engineer Rashid declares assets increased, liabilities reduced...

Baramulla: In jail since 2019, Engineer Rashid declares assets increased, liabilities reduced in five years

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Baramulla, May 18: Independent candidate from the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat Abdul Rashid Sheikh, who is lodged in Tihar for alleged terror-funding activities, has significantly reduced his liabilities and increased assets in the last five years, his poll affidavit shows.

Better known as ‘Engineer Rashid’, the former MLA’s assets are now valued at Rs 1.55 crore compared to Rs 80 lakh in 2019. It includes a 41,072 sq ft non-agriculture land in his home town Langate and a house in Srinagar worth Rs 90 lakh.

A science graduate with a diploma in civil engineering, Rashid has declared Rs 11.31 lakh home loan and Rs 3.11 lakh Kissan Credit Card loan as liabilities.

The 59-year-old former MLA has only Rs 1,424 in his sole bank account, his financial disclosures show. In the affidavit, he has cited pension as his source of income and his spouse works as a “housemaid”.

Five years earlier, he had declared a residential house in the posh Jawahar Nagar locality of Srinagar, purchased in 2017, as his only asset and also stated that he had a liability of Rs 60 lakh towards a home loan from a bank.

Rashid was arrested in 2019 after his name cropped up in a case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) related to money laundering and waging war against the country. This case also names the designated terrorist and chief of banned Lashker-e-Taiba Hafeez Saeed as an accused.

He has been navigating a complex web of allegations and forging ahead in his political pursuits with the help of the Democratic Progressive Azad Party led by Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Rashid won the Langate assembly segment in 2008 and 2014 and also unsuccessfully contested the 2019 parliamentary elections. On October 7, 2017, he sparked a major controversy by hosting a beef party on the lawns of the MLA hostel in Srinagar and said, “No court or legislature can prevent the people from eating what they want.” He was assaulted by BJP MLAs inside the assembly the next day.

Rashid has floated the Awami Itihad Party and is fighting the Lok Sabha polls this time as an Independent. Claiming that he is innocent, the former MLA’s supporters are seeking votes by raising the slogan “jail ka badla vote se”. His son Abrar and ex-Congress MLA Shoib Lone are leading Rashid’s campaign from his traditional Langate seat in North Kashmir.

According to the FIR by the NIA, the case against Rashid was registered for raising, receiving and collecting funds through illegal means to fund separatist and militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir and for causing disruption in the Valley by way of pelting stones on the security forces, burning schools, damaging public property and waging war against India.

His name cropped up during the interrogation of businessman and co-accused Zahoor Watali. Later, Rashid’s bail application was rejected by a special court in Delhi, stating that the accused had received unaccounted funds from Watali against whom there had already been reasonable grounds for a prima facie case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Besides Rashid, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah, People’s Conference president Sajad Lone, PDP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Mir Fayaz are the notable contestants in the Baramulla seat.

Polling in the Baramulla parliamentary constituency will be held in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 20.–(PTI)

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