Booked in terror funding, PDP’s Para contesting LS polls in Sgr

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz. Updated: 4/11/2024 2:31:08 AM Front Page

Srinagar: Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has fielded none other than the 34-year-old youth leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Para of the Pulwama in the all-important Anantnag-Rajouri-Poonch constituency in the current general elections for Lok Sabha.
Para will be locking his horns with a candidate from Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) which has been defeated only once—in 2014 by PDP’s Tariq Hamid Kara— in its bastion of Central Kashmir. Farooq got it back in the by-elections of 2019 and later also retained it in the general elections in 2019.
One among the party former party presidents and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and the former Minister Aga Syed Ruhullah is speculated to be the NC’s candidate this time.
Once believed to be a 'friendly' of the pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizbul Mujahideen, Para allegedly travelled to Pakistan in 2007. He interviewed Hizbul Mujahideen ‘supreme commander’ Syed Salahuddin and later broadcast his interview through a Pulwama-based cable TV channel.
Four years later, Para was inducted as the only member from Jammu and Kashmir into Ram Jethmalani's ‘Kashmir Committee-2'. Journalist MJ Akbar, academic-activist Madhu Kishwar and a retired officer of the Indian Foreign Service, VK Grover, were other members of the Jethmalani panel which struggled unsuccessfully to rope in the valley's political and militant activists into a dialogue process.
According to Jethmalani, the Kashmir Committee struggled for seeking the resolution of the Kashmir problem with the engagement of the separatists. It also visited the mainstream politicians apparently soft towards or friendly with the separatists and the militants with the notable exception of the NC.
Even as Jethmalani's ‘Kashmir Committee-2' failed like its previous version of ‘Kashmir Committee-1’ from 2002 to 2004, Para made his entry into Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's PDP ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in 2014. He campaigned for all PDP candidates in South Kashmir and played a key role in Haseeb Drabu’s victory from Rajpura in the Assembly elections of 2014.
Para was also on the forefront of Mehbooba Mufti’s campaign in the interim election for Assembly in 2016. He was designated as the President of the PDP’s youth wing and simultaneously appointed as Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council.
While mobilising the valley’s youths for sports activities, Para on one occasion in Srinagar organised a grand reception for the then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh who is now the Union Defence Minister.
Para was among the mainstream politicians who were detained for about a year under Public Safety Act (PSA) after the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. After his release in 2020, he remained associated with the anti-BJP Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD).
Later, he was arrested and interrogated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the UT’s Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK) for his alleged involvement in siphoning off government funds to Jamaat-e-Islami and the hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Fantoosh during the street turmoil of 2016.
He was also accused of being in contact with Abu Dujana, the Pakistani terrorist of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Abu Dujana, on behalf of his political masters.
Two separately filed charge sheets by the two agencies accused Para of being a mole of the Pakistan-based jihadist groups and the valleys separatist organisations in the Indian institutions of politics and governance.
With the prosecution proceedings being underway against him, Para was released on bail by the designated courts of the two agencies. His party and counsels have strongly refuted the allegations levelled against him.
Para also contested the election successfully from jail as a PDP candidate for the Block Development Council (BDC) from an area of Pulwama in 2020.

Updated On 4/11/2024 2:36:56 AM

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