Tests Covid-19 Positive Posthumously; SDM Lolab Says Family Asked To Ensure Burial Under Protocol
Srinagar, May 5 (GNS): Detained Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, died in a hospital in Jammu, less than a day after he was shifted from Udhampur jail where he remained incarcerated since last year under Public Safety Act.
While the 77-year-old had tested negative for covid-19 on rapid tests, his swab came positive for the pathogen after his death, they said. He was shifted to GMC Jammu, about 55 kilometres away, last evening, official sources said.
Sehrai was detained last year and booked under Public Safety Act, which allows detention upto 2 years without trial. The elderly was considered as a strong contender to take over as chief of the Hurriyat Conference after its former chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in a letter, announced his dissociation from the amalgam.
Sehrai’s stature among Hurriyat leaders had risen when his son Junaid joined militancy immediately after he was elected as chairman of the TeH — a political party Geelani had founded with Sehrai after parting ways from their parent organisation Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir — after Geelani’s resignation in 2018. Junaid was killed in an encounter in Srinagar on May 19 last year.
Originally hailing from Tekipura village in Lolab in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Sehrai joined the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) at a young age and remained associated with Geelani for over six decades. He was detained numerous times on charges of carrying out anti-government and anti-national activities.
Peoples Conference president and former minister Sajad Lone paid tribute to Sehrai and said, “Sehrai Sahib was a political leader not a terrorist”.
In a series of tweets, Sajjad remembered his meeting with the leader and asked, “And why did he have to die in incarceration and not at his home amongst his kin and loved ones. Have we become so weak that an old infirm dying person is a threat to the state. I am not being critical. But please introspect “
“Ashraf Sehrai Sahib passes away. A long political career comes to an end. Ashraf Sahib struggled all his life. A Jamaat ideologue. When I was 19 I bumped into him and He told me Tel ur father —kitney haseen hain terey lab ki galiyan dekey bemaza na hua. May Allah grant him Jannat,” he said, adding, “This is the irony of Kashmiri politics. Top quality politicians consumed by the conflict. The ideological versatility of Kashmir politics is a curse. A transparently honest politician spent decades in jail.”
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said numerous political leaders continue to be under detention in Jammu and Kashmir “purely” for their ideology as she condoled the death of Sehrai.
Deeply saddened to know about Ashraf Sehrai sahab’s sudden demise. Like him countless political prisoners & other detainees from J&K continue to be jailed purely for their ideologies & thought process. In today’s India one pays a price with his life for dissent, Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
She said the government should immediately release detainees.
“The least GOI can do in such dangerous circumstances is to immediately release these detainees on parole so that they return home to their families,” she said.
Sehrai belongs to Kupwara district of north Kashmir.
Meanwhile, SDM Lolab Aijaz Ahmad told GNS that covid-19 restrictions have been extended in the district by orders of Deputy Commissioner Kupwara. “We have already informed family that incase he is to be buried in Kupwara, they shall ensure that only such number of people participate in his last rites as stands allowed under covid-19 protocol.” (GNS)