Ashraf Sehrai, jailed Hurriyat leader, dies in Jammu hospital

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Mohammad Ashraf Khan, aka Sehrai, chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and a lifetime aide of Syed Ali Geelani, died at a hospital in Jammu where he was in detention for the past year. He was 77.

Sehrai, who was lodged at Kot Balwal Jail since July 2020, was admitted at the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu after his health deteriorated earlier this week. He was facing detention under the Public Safety Act.

Anshul Garg, Deputy Commissioner Jammu, told The Kashmir Walla that Sehrai died at the hospital and his team will facilitate the body’s transfer to Srinagar. “My SOP committee is looking after it (the transfer of Sehrai’s body), we will facilitate it in the best possible way,” Garg said.

The police had yesterday informed Sehrai’s family in Srinagar about the deterioration in his health condition and told them to reach GMC Jammu where the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman was admitted.

A local news agency has reported that Sehrai had developed “serious breathing issues” even as it wasn’t clear if he was positive for COVID-19.  

Another news agency quoted Dr A D S Manhas, Medical Superintendent of GMC Jammu, as saying that Sehrai’s rapid test had come negative. “His RT-PCR for COVID-19 is awaited,” Manhas said.

Sehrai was a lifetime aide of Geelani and their association dated back to six decades. He was born in Tekipora village in Kupwara’s Lolab area.  

He was once tipped to be the successor of Geelani but the transition never took place. Sehrai was elected as the chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a constituent of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, which was previously headed by Geelani.

Sehrai was part of the Jamaat-e-Islami for a major part of his life before he left the organisation and followed Geelani’s footsteps to become a part of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

Sehrai’s younger son, Junaid Khan, was a militant associated with Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed in a gunfight in Srinagar in 2020.

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