SRINAGAR — Jailed pro-freedom leader and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Chairman Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died on Wednesday afternoon in a hospital in Jammu, has tested positive for COVID-19 posthumously, officials said on Wednesday.
Sehrai, 77, was shifted from Udhampur jail to Government Medical College (GMC) on Tuesday after he developed pneumonia. While he had tested negative for COVID-19 on a rapid test, his RT-PCR returned positive for the virus after his death.
Sehrai was detained in July year immediately after he held funeral prayers for his militant son, Junaid Sehrai. He was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) and was languishing in Udhampur Jail since then.
The family of Sehrai told KNO that an ambulance has been provided and the body will likely reach Kashmir during the night.
The family members said that the authorities have not allowed the funeral prayers at Srinagar and thus the last rites will be performed at his ancestral village Tekipora Lolab in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
They said only 20 persons have been allowed to participate in the funeral prayers and performing the last rites, and it has not been decided yet who will lead the funeral prayers. “Let’s see who will be allowed to participate first,” a family member said.
“The last rites including the burial will be performed till 10:00 a.m. on Thursday,” the family members said.
Sehrai was born in 1944 in Tekipora village of Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. He completed his primary education in his hometown and secondary education from Sogam Lolab High School in 1959.
Sehrai did his Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Urdu from Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. He was fond of writing and his writings were mostly published in different media outlets including ‘Tulu’, which he started publishing in 1969 from Sopore area of Baramulla district. The magazine published by him was shut down in 1971.
Sehrai became an affiliate of Syed Ali Shah Geelani in 1959 and became his close aide and friend. He became a member of Jamaat-e-Islami in 1960 and was incarcerated for the first time in the year 1965 over anti-government activities after he delivered a speech criticizing Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq’s government for repression of free speech and arrest of members of the Mau-e-Muqaddas Majlis-e-Amal.
After leaving Jamaat-e-Islami, Sehrai was appointed as Tehreek-e-Hurriyat’s General Secretary in the year 2004 during its foundation. Later on March 19, 2018, he was appointed the acting chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat after Geelani stepped down.
Sehrai had six children – four sons and two daughters. The youngest son, Junaid Sehrai, joined militant ranks in March 2018 and was killed on May 19, 2020, in a gunfight with government forces in Srinagar.
In July 2020, Sehrai was arrested under Public Safety Act (PSA) and was serving imprisonment in the district jail of Udhampur. His health deteriorated on May 4, 2021, following which he was subsequently admitted to Government Medical College, Jammu where he died on Wednesday afternoon.