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Amritpal, Rashid as MPs, unique example of Indian democracy

The election of Amritpal and Rashid raised a unique question, in case they do not get bail, how will they be able to represent their respective constituencies?

News Arena Network - Chandigarh - UPDATED: July 3, 2024, 08:00 AM - 4 mins read

Radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh and J&K's Engineer Rashid.

Amritpal, Rashid as MPs, unique example of Indian democracy

Radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh and J&K's Engineer Rashid.


Radical Sikh preacher from Punjab, Amritpal Singh and another detainee from Jammu and Kashmir, Engineer Rashid will take oath as members of the 18th Lok Sabha on July 5. They were the only two elected MPs of the newly constituted Lok Sabha who have not taken oath so far.   

 

Both Amritpal and Rashid are currently in jail. While Amritpal is lodged in a high-security jail in Dibrugarh, Assam, after being arrested by the Punjab government under National Security Act (NSA), Rashid is in Tihar Jail, Delhi. He has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). 

Both the elected MPs have been granted special parole for the purpose.  

 

Since Rashid is lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi, he has been allowed only two hours of parole for taking the oath, while Amritpal who will have to travel from Assam has been granted four days parole.   

 

Rashid has served twice as a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative assembly. He represented the Langat constituency in the district Kupwara of Kashmir valley. He was arrested in a case related to terror funding and jailed under UAPA. He has been in jail since 2019. He contested the 2024 General Elections as an independent candidate from the Baramulla parliamentary constituency and defeated former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah from there.   

 

Amritpal is the head of the ‘Waris Punjab De’, a non-political organisation that mostly worked on reforms like preaching baptism among Sikh youth and campaigning against drug addiction. He is behind bars since April 2023, when he surrendered in a case related to an alleged attack on a police station in district Tarn Taran.   

 

While he has mostly restricted himself to preaching the ‘Amrit Prachar’ (baptism) of the Sikh youth and building up a campaign against drug addiction, which has dangerously hit Punjab, he would off and on dabble into separatist politics also, saying that Sikhs were not free and they were “ghulam” (slaves). However, he has not openly preached the creation of a separate Khalistan.   

 

While Rashid has already taken oath under the Indian constitution twice, when he was elected to the Jammu and Kashmir legislature, Amritpal will be taking oath under the Indian Constitution for the first time.   

 

On Amritpal, opinion is divided. While one section believes that Amritpal joining the mainstream is a welcome step, another section apprehends that this may encourage radicalism in a border state like Punjab.  

 

It is difficult to predict how Amritpal will change his approach after getting elected and after he takes oath under the Indian Constitution, one thing is for sure whatever he will do, he will be doing after having sworn allegiance to the constitution. That is always a positive sign.

 

The election of Amritpal and Rashid raised a unique question, in case they do not get bail, how will they be able to represent their respective constituencies?  

Although they have been booked under serious and stringent laws like the NSA and UAPA, they have not been convicted. A person is presumed to be innocent till not proven guilty. At the same time, the bail conditions for detainees under NSA and UAPA are very stringent and difficult to be filled. That is the reason Rashid is in jail for five years. There is no certainty when he will get a bail. The same is the case with Amritpal.

 

This means that the effective strength of the 18th Lok Sabha right now will be 543. There are 545 MPs in the Lok Sabha. While 543 are directly elected, two members are nominated by the President of India from the Anglo-Indian community. 

 

With Amritpal and Rashid remaining in jail and no scope of their bail in the immediate future, the Lok Sabha will have an effective strength of 543 members only. 

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