NIA says new Hurriyat chairman Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai boosted anti-India activities in Kashmir after death of Burhan Wani


Srinagar: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has named Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, the newly elected chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, whose son recently joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, as a key man who gave fillip to anti-India activities in Kashmir.

An NIA investigation report on the funding of the separatists and militants in Kashmir named Sehrai and some other office-bearers of the Hurriyat, including those from border districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region as remaining in the forefront of anti-India activities.

The NIA referred to the activities which were carried out by the Hurriyat, including by Geelani and Sehrai to “mobilise” public opinion in favour of pro-freedom protests in Kashmir. Apart from listing a seminar and some public programmes which were presided over by Sehrai, the NIA also procured letters issued by Geelani on organisational activities of Hurriyat in which Sehrai was referred to as an important office bearer.

The NIA has also referred to the letters in which Geelani and Sehrai asked the Hurriyat cadre to remain active on the ground. Though NIA also procured the letters of different separatist organisations as evidence of their anti-India activities, the activities of Hurriyat have been referred to in broader detail.

It also listed the protest calendars issued by the separatists after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in 2016, as evidence of their involvement in anti-India activities. Also, as part of the charge sheet against the separatist leaders, the NIA also referred to the call details and e-mails between Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, JKLF chairman Yaseen Malik, and Geelani to “decide on the activities” before the protest programmes were issued.

The separatists were issuing the protest calendars regularly after the death of Wani and civilian killings, through which they asked the people to follow different means of protest in 2016. Inspector General of NIA Alok Mittal said the agency was probing the case involving the separatist leaders and has charged them with different offences.

After Sehrai’s son Junaid Ashraf Khan, 28, joined the militant outfit, Director General of Police SP Vaid asked Sehrai to appeal to him to lay down arms. However, Sehrai refused.

On Tuesday, Sehrai addressed a function on the death anniversary of advocate Jalil Andrabi organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association to “pursue the Kashmir cause.”

During the seminar entitled “Right of self-determination and persistent human rights violations in Kashmir”, Sehrai stressed on the “broad-based unity in rank and file to pursue the cause of freedom”. “While pursuing the cause for realisation of right to self-determination, we must not shy away from the principled foundations of Islam. It is better to forge a unity with a purpose and for a cause in light of Hurriyat constitution of 1993 (sic),” he said, at the function.

“It is not only the leaders who are making sacrifices but also the common man and these sacrifices are supreme and above all other considerations. Difference of opinion is bliss in Islam but the difference should not lead to confrontation (sic),” he added.  While Sehrai was unavailable for comment, a senior Hurriyat leader said “the charges against separatist leaders were false and without any basis.”

In a recent statement, Geelani said, “The entire NIA exercise as political vendetta. Instead of citing any proof, the NIA is relying on social media reports and a long list of more than 332 witnesses”. He added that “false cases” are registered against the detainees, “they are subjected to extreme physical torture” and their bail applications are often turn down on false pretexts.

Sehrai, who was previously the Hurriyat general secretary, took over as the Hurriyat chief after he was elected chairman at a meeting of its executive council. Sehrai took over from Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who stepped down after 15 years at the helm. Geelani, who held the post after a split in the Hurriyat Conference in 2003, cited poor health as the reason for relinquishing office.



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