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Jailed Amritpal Singh and Engineer Rashid Take Oath as Lok Sabha Members Amid Heavy Security While on Parole

New Delhi, 05-07-2024 : Amritpal Singh, a radical Sikh preacher, and Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdul Rashid, both currently incarcerated, were sworn in as Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday. Granted parole specifically to take their oaths as members of the Lok Sabha, their swearing-in took place under stringent security arrangements in and around the Parliament complex.

Engineer Rashid, detained in Delhi’s Tihar Jail on terror funding charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and Singh, held in Assam’s Dibrugarh prison under the National Security Act, were escorted to Parliament by security personnel early in the morning. They completed the formalities and took their oaths in the Lok Sabha speaker’s chamber.

The two MPs-elect, Singh, 31, from Khadoor Sahib in Punjab, and Rashid, 56, from Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir, had won their seats as Independents while still imprisoned. They had missed the initial oath-taking ceremony on June 24 and 25 alongside other winning candidates of the 18th Lok Sabha.

Rashid was granted a two-hour custody parole, excluding travel time from Tihar to Parliament. In contrast, Singh received a four-day custody parole starting July 5 to accommodate travel from Assam to Delhi and back. According to their parole conditions, neither Singh nor Rashid can speak to or address the media, and their family members are also barred from making media statements.

Singh, a Khalistani sympathizer and leader of the ‘Waris Punjab De’ organization, has permission to meet his family in Delhi during his parole. Rashid’s family, however, was only allowed to attend his oath-taking. Rashid, in jail since 2019 following his 2017 arrest, was granted parole by a Delhi court, whereas Singh’s parole was sanctioned by the district magistrate of Amritsar, where he was arrested in April 2023 for a violent confrontation at a police station.

Both men are required to be accompanied by security personnel at all times during their parole. The Delhi Police and Punjab Police were instructed to coordinate with the Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha for procedural matters within the Parliament complex.

Rashid’s name emerged during the investigation into Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, arrested by the NIA for allegedly financing terrorist groups and separatists in Kashmir. The NIA’s charge sheet included several individuals, such as Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin. Malik was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in 2022 after pleading guilty.

Singh, who models himself after the slain Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, remains imprisoned along with nine associates under the National Security Act.