hairman Tehreek e Hurriyat, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai Wednesday passed away at a Jammu hospital a day after he was admitted there.
The 80-year old politician had been lodged in Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu since he was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in July last year.
Sehrai had reportedly developed pneumonia in jail. His Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for Covid-19 came negative while the RT-PCR result is still awaited. The police had on Tuesday informed his family in Srinagar about the deterioration in his health condition and told them to reach GMC Jammu.
He had COVID-19 symptoms and his oxygen levels had fallen, the officials said. “He complained of breathlessness on Tuesday and was taken to DH Udhampur. When his situation did not improve, he was moved to the GMC, where he breathed his last around noon on Wednesday,” officials said.
Sehrai was arrested under the PSA from his Barzaulla residence in Srinagar in July 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.
Sehrai’s younger son, Junaid Khan, was a militant associated with Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed in a gunfight in Srinagar in 2020.
The Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said despite repeated appeals to release political prisoners lodged in various jails on humanitarian grounds in view of the devastating COVID-19 crisis, authorities are playing with prisoners’ lives.
“In the death of Sehrai people of J&K have lost a sincere and honest leader. Sehrai’s contribution to the people’s movement will always be remembered and honoured by the people,” Farooq said.
People’s Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone said that the irony of Kashmiri politics is that an honest politician like Sehrai had to spend decades in jail.
“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. Sehrai sahib was a political leader not a terrorist,” Lone tweeted.
Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association in a statement called Sehrai’s death a “custodial murder” and asked the authorities to investigate it through an impartial enquiry.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also expressed condolences