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Jailed Hurriyat Leader Dies At Jammu Hospital, Kashmir Slips Into Shock

Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow

SRINAGAR— Top separatist leader and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, who was detained under Public Safety Act (PSA) last year, passed away in Jammu hospital.

Sehrai was shifted to Shri Maharaja Gulab Singh (SMGS) hospital in Jammu after he developed serious complications in Udhampur Jail on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday he lost the battle of life.

A close aide of ailing Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, he was suffering from multiple ailments including bronchitis, diabetes, blood pressure, kidney disease, prostate, heart problem, and hearing impairment.

He was arrested in July last year, three months after his militant son Junaid Sehrai was killed in a gun battle. He was booked under PSA and shifted to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu. Later he was shifted to Udhampur jail in Jammu.

Coming from a religious family of Lolaab in the Kupwara district, the 77-year-old leader joined Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir in 1959. Jailed several times, he parted ways with Jamaat in 2004 along with Geelani. Later the duo formed Tehreek e Hurriyat and he became its general secretary before becoming chairman when Geelani stepped down a few years ago.

“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. 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,” said Mehbooba Mufti, former J&K chief minister.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Najmu Saqib described his death as a political assassination. “Death of every aged leader inside jails due to pandemic is a political assassination. Remember government has options,” he tweeted.

Expressing deep sorrow over Sehrai’s death, Hurriyat Conference said he was left unattended by the authorities till his condition worsened.

“In the death of Sehrai Sahab, people of J&K have lost a sincere, able, and honest leader. He was dedicated to his party and its ideology and worked tirelessly and selflessly for the people. His contribution to the people’s movement will always be remembered and honored,” said a Hurriyat spokesman

Meanwhile, daughters of detained Hurriyat leader Shahid-ul-Islam have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking the release of their ailing father from Tihar jail. Islam was arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2017 in terror funding case. He has tested positive for COVID-19 in jail.

“Authorities are playing with the lives of detained leaders,” said Hurriyat spokesman.

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