by Hilal Shah
KUPWARA: Mohammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai was born in Tekipora (Lolab) in Kupwara in 1944. He was the youngest among three brothers, Mohammad Yousuf Khan (dead 2016) and Qamar-ud-Din Khan, a Jamaat-e-Islami veteran (died in 2009). Seharie died at the age of 77.
Sehrai has done his basic schooling from a local school in his village and passed his tenth class from Government High School Sogam.
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 Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) May 5, 2021
Throughout, he was an intelligent student in the class and was oriented towards religion. With his intelligence, he was appointed as a teacher in Darasgahi Islami now called Islamia High School Lalpora, 3 kilometers away from his home village.
Sehrai had survived 14 years of his age in different jails within and outside Jammu and Kashmir. For the first time, he was jailed in 1965 over anti Government activities.
Being religiously well knowledged in his early age he was appointed as Qaim-i-Zila, deputy head of Baramulla district by Jamaat Islami.
After many years when Geelani became the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Sopore constituency Sehrai become Jamaat’s head of the Baramulla district.
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
— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) May 5, 2021
Sehrai was the father of six children, including four sons and two daughters. His youngest son Junaid Ashraf Khan joined militancy and was killed as a Hizbul Mujahideen militant on May 19, 2020.
In 1975, Sehraie contested in assembly elections from Ganderbal in opposition with Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah.
In the late seventies, Baramulla was bifurcated into two separate districts Baramulla and Kupwara, Sehrai was named as the Amir-Zilla of Kupwara.
When Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing was launched, Shooba-i-Talaba (The Youth section), which was later named as Jamiat-e-Talaba, he was declared as its Nazmi Aala, the Chief Administrator.
Sehrai succeeded Syed Ali Geelani as the new Hurriyat Chairman in 2019 till date.
Sehrai was among various who were detained during the state-wide locked imposed to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Later in July 2020, he was arrested from his Baghat residence in Srinagar by the Jammu and Kashmir police under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).
While being behind the bars in Udhampur jail for the last year his health was deteriorating, his family alleged. Eventually, he was shifted to Government Medical College Jammu for treatment on May 4. A day later, he breathed his last in Jammu hospital. Now reports said he was Covid-19 positive. His Oxygen level, one report said had dipped to 60.
Family sources said they are driving the corpse from Jammu to Kashmir and they have been traveling for three hours. “We plan to lay him at rest at his ancestral Tikipora village in Lolab,” one relative, who did not offer his identity said. “We will receive condolences at Srinagar for three days.”