Geelani’s lifelong comrade and anointed heir was not allowed to see his family in his last days
SRINAGAR: Chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH) Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, the man who was seen as the political heir of ailing veteran leader Syed Ali Geelani, died on Wednesday.
Sehrai, the devout ideological ally of Geelani, died at a Jammu hospital just a day after he was shifted from the Kot Bhalwal Jail where he was imprisoned for almost a year.
“We received a call at 6 PM Tuesday evening by jail authorities telling us that Sehrai sahib was unwell, but there was nothing to worry about. We were told that he was first shifted to Udhampur hospital, and then for advanced treatment to Jammu after he had loose motions,” Mujahid Sehrai, the son of the deceased leader, told Kashmir Reader.
Mujahid said that he immediately booked a flight for Jammu, but his father passed away while he was in the plane.
“I reached there at 12:45pm, but he had passed away at 12:15 pm,” Mujahid said.
Mujahid said in the afternoon that he was waiting for his father’s body outside the hospital while the medical formalities were being completed. “They have kept him in the mortuary,” he told Kashmir Reader over phone from Jammu.
The 77-year-old Sehrai was shifted to hospital on Tuesday after he developed medical complications. In July last year, just two months after his MBA-turned-militant son Junaid Sehrai was killed in a fierce gun battle in downtown Srinagar, Sehrai, battling many diseases, was booked under the draconian Public Safety Act and imprisoned a hundred kilometres away from his home in Jammu.
At the time of his arrest, Mujahid said, his father had bronchitis, diabetes, blood pressure, kidney issues, prostrate, heart issues, and hearing impairment. In October every year he was supposed to get a vaccine, which he was not given last year. A petition before the High Court seeking medical care for Sehrai remained unheard, he added.
The last hearing of Sehrai’s petition was listed on April 16, but it was not heard because the judge was absent, Mujahid said.
Sehrai had spoken to his family ten days ago on phone during which he had complained about back pain, lack of appetite, and general weakness, Mujahid said. He was scheduled to call on Friday but he did not, and then the call was expected on Saturday and Monday, but the phone did not ring.
“My father was not tested for Covid-19 either with rapid antigen or RT-PCR test. But he had pneumonia. His oxygen saturation was low. He passed away without meeting us,” Mujahid rued.
Born in Lolab area of north Kashmir in 1944, Sehrai joined Jamaat-e-Islami in 1959, taking cue from his elder brother. Five years later he was jailed for the first time. He was later imprisoned many times, his prison time spanning over two decades. During his young days, he worked with Geelani in various capacities, until 2004 when Geelani departed from the parent organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami. Geelani was joined by Sehrai, and they together stitched the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat which became one of the main resistance political fronts in Jammu and Kashmir. Sehrai rose from the ranks of General Secretary to its chairman in 2018.