Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are trailing in their respective Lok Sabha constituencies of Baramulla and Anantnag-Rajouri, data from the Election Commission showed.

Abdullah, the vice president of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, is trailing jailed Independent candidate Abdul Rashid Sheikh, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, from Baramulla by 1,43,543 votes, according to Election Commission data as of 1.55 pm.

Abdullah, the National Conference vice-president, conceded defeat and congratulated Rashid on his victory.

“I don’t believe his victory will hasten his release from prison nor will the people of North Kashmir get the representation they have a right to but the voters have spoken and in a democracy that’s all that matters,” he said in a social media post.

Sheikh has been lodged in jail since August 2019 in connection with a terror funding case filed by the National Investigation Agency. His entry into the elections electrified the contest for Baramulla, which was otherwise seen as a fight between Abdullah and Sajad Gani Lone of the Peoples Conference.

Sheikh’s campaign was led by his son, Abrar Rashid, who made an emotional appeal to the electorate for support, claiming that it would pave the way for his father's release.

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Mufti, the president of the Peoples Democratic Party, is trailing Mian Altaf Ahmad of the National Conference by 2,33,579 votes in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat.

The Peoples Democratic Party chief also conceded defeat and said she respects the verdict of the people.

“I thank my PDP workers and leaders for their hard work & support despite all the odds,” she said. “My deepest gratitude to the people who voted for me. Winning and losing is part of the game and won’t deter us from our path.”

The boundaries of the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha constituency were redrawn in 2022 after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution in August 2019 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.

The constituency now comprises the Kashmir Valley’s Anantnag and the Pir Panjal Valley’s Rajouri and Poonch. The two areas are connected by the Mughal Road, which remains open seasonally. Anantnag, Mufti's home district, is considered her party's bastion.

In Srinagar, the National Conference’s Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi is ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party’s Waheed ur Rehman Para by 1,31,534, according to Election Commission data. Mehdi has secured 2,40,339 votes till now.

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Also read: Lok Sabha 2024: A jailed politician stirs up Baramulla contest in Kashmir