Out on parole, Amritpal Singh, Engineer Rashid take oath as LS members

NEW DELHI — Jailed radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh and Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdul Rashid, who were granted parole to take oath as members of the Lok Sabha, were sworn in as MPs on Friday, amid heavy deployment of security personnel in and around the Parliament complex.

While Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, is in Delhi’s Tihar jail in a militant funding case registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Singh is lodged in a prison in Assam’s Dibrugarh district for offences under the National Security Act.

They were brought to the Parliament complex by security personnel this morning.

The MPs-elect took oath in the chamber of the Lok Sabha speaker after completing formalities, a source said.

Singh, 31, and Rashid, 56, won the recent Lok Sabha elections from Khadoor Sahib in Punjab and Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively, as Independents while being incarcerated.

They could not take oath as members of the 18th Lok Sabha on June 24 and 25 along with the other winning candidates.

For taking oath, Rashid was granted a two-hour custody parole, excluding the travel time from Tihar to Parliament, and Singh a four-day custody parole, beginning July 5, in view of the travel from Assam to Delhi and back.

Their parole orders stated that during their period of temporary release, they can neither speak to or address the media on any issue or make any statements. Their family members also cannot make a statement in any form of media.

While Singh, a Khalistani sympathiser who heads the ‘Waris Punjab De’ outfit, has been allowed to meet his family in Delhi, Rashid’s family had permission only to attend his oath taking.

The parole for Rashid, who has been in jail since 2019 after his arrest in 2017, was granted by a court in Delhi and that of Singh by the district magistrate of Amritsar from where he was arrested in April 2023 for barging into a police station in February and clashing with police personnel in a bid to free one of his aides from custody.

Both Singh and Rashid are to be accompanied by security personnel at all times during their parole periods, the orders stated.

The Delhi Police and Punjab Police were directed to coordinate with the secretary general of the Lok Sabha for procedures inside the Parliament complex.

The name of Rashid, a former MLA, cropped up during the investigation of Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Watali, who the NIA had arrested for allegedly funding militant groups and separatists in the Kashmir valley.

The NIA had filed a charge sheet against several individuals, including Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin in the case. Malik was awarded life imprisonment by a trial court in 2022 after he pleaded guilty to the charges.

Singh styled himself after slain Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and is in jail along with nine of his associates under the National Security Act. — (PTI)