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Terror accused cannot become MP in the West, but they can in India

NewsTerror accused cannot become MP in the West, but they can in India

NEW DELHI: In the J&K Assembly elections, anti-India candidates can win and enter the Assembly, thus increasing security risks.

After the elections in British Parliament, presidential elections are set to take place in the United States in November. In these countries, can individuals accused of serious involvement in terrorist activities become Members of Parliament? Could someone demand to separate Los Angeles from the US, or conduct anti-American activities funded by China, and still become a Member of Parliament? The sharp answer to both questions would be “no”.

But this is an extremely liberal and democratic India, where accused criminals involved in terrorist and divisive activities in Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, and those receiving foreign funding for anti-India activities, can not only contest elections but also manage to take the oath of Lok Sabha membership after deceiving the people and taking advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses. On 5 July, Amritpal Singh, imprisoned in Assam, and Sheikh Abdul Rashid, imprisoned in Tihar, took oath as Members of Parliament. Just imagine if such criminals win more elections in states like Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir and form legislative assemblies and state governments. They could pass anti-India proposals and ignite the fire of separatism.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Amritpal Singh won the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha seat in Punjab. Sheikh Abdul Rashid won the Baramulla seat in Jammu & Kashmir while being in jail. Amritpal Singh is imprisoned in Assam’s Dibrugarh jail. The court granted him conditional parole, stating that during his time out of jail, he must not make any political statements, nor can any videos or photos of him be taken. Amritpal was given four days of parole for taking the oath, while Rashid was given two hours.

Amritpal was arrested by Punjab Police last year in April from Rode village in Moga, and charges were filed against him and his organization, Waris Punjab De, under the National Security Act, 1980 (NSA) after a month-long campaign by police and security agencies. The pro-Khalistan individual has 11 criminal cases against him in Punjab and one in Dibrugarh, including an accusation of unauthorized use of an electronic gadget in jail. The NSA is a preventive detention law that allows individuals to be detained for up to 12 months without formal charges.

Similarly, Rashid has been imprisoned in Tihar for the past five years and is accused of “terrorism financing” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). Rashid contested the election as a candidate of the Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) and won by a margin of 200,000 votes. He defeated former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, even though the Abdullah family, from Sheikh Abdullah to Farooq Abdullah, has been central to the region’s political power since Independence. While Rashid was in jail, his sons Abrar and Asrar, along with his supporters, campaigned for him, appealing to voters to “avenge the imprisonment with votes” with the slogan “vote as a revenge for jail”.
Based on the duration of both their paroles or interim bails, they will have to inform the Speaker in writing that they will not be able to attend the House proceedings due to their imprisonment.

If Amritpal or Rashid is sentenced by the court, they will immediately lose their seat in the Lok Sabha. This is provided under Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA), which disqualifies MPs convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years. As a result, they will cease to be MPs, and they will also be barred from contesting elections for a period of six years after their release.
Last week, India called on the international community to isolate and expose countries that shelter terrorists.

Indirectly criticizing China and Pakistan, India stated that if terrorism is left unchecked, it could become a major threat to regional and global peace. At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar read a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasizing that one of the core goals of the SCO is to combat terrorism. Jaishankar said at the conference, “Many of us have our own experiences that often surface at our borders. It should be clear that if terrorism is left unchecked, it can become a significant threat to regional and global peace. Terrorism cannot be justified or forgiven in any form or manifestation.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and Russian President Vladimir Putin were also present at the conference. Nevertheless, Jaishankar indirectly referred to Pakistan and its ally China, stating that the international community should “isolate and expose those countries that harbour terrorists, provide them safe havens, and promote terrorism.” China has often blocked proposals presented at the United Nations to blacklist wanted terrorists based in Pakistan.

On one hand, we are running campaigns against terrorism on global platforms, while on the other hand, individuals and organizations supporting anti-India terrorist activities in the name of democracy and human rights are not only active but also posing threats to our elections and our future. Some political parties are also supporting them directly or indirectly. The main concern is that elections for the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly are likely in the next three months. After delimitation, the Election Commission is also making preparations. Many security experts believe that out of the four Lok Sabha seats, only one controversial terrorist accused won, but in the Legislative Assembly, due to inappropriate methods and influenced voters, anti-India candidates can win and enter the Assembly, which could increase security risks.

The Supreme Court has directed that Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections should be conducted by September. Nonetheless, the Election Commission will take the final call after discussing the situation with the state administration and security agencies. Furthermore, the Supreme Court should prioritize national security interests on such sensitive issues. Cases of terrorist activities should be given top priority and terrorists should be given the death penalty or life imprisonment so that they or their accomplices cannot carry out terrorist attacks in India.

 

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