For a large part of his political life, Waheed Ur Rehman Parra was a poster boy of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, a young leader who stood up for the idea of India in the strife-torn state.
Even after the scrapping of Article 370 in August 2019, which cancelled Kashmir’s statehood and special status, and which was followed by mass incarceration of its mainstream political leaders, Parra did not give up on the electoral process.
In the elections to the District Development Council – the first direct polls held in Jammu and Kashmir after it was split and turned into a Union territory – Parra contested from jail, and won.
But for nearly two-and-a-half years now, the 34-year-old leader from the volatile South Kashmir district of Pulwama has been denied what most elected representatives in the country take for granted – the chance to take an oath and serve their constituency.
“From courts to the Election Commission of India, I have approached every possible forum to take oath,” said Parra. “Since the Jammu and Kashmir’s constitution no longer exists, I participated in an election under the Indian constitution and I want to take oath under it. Yet, they are not allowing it to happen.”
In 2020, Parra…