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Sehrai, tipped to succeed Geelani as Hurriyat chairman, held under PSA | India News

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SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: In what could be a dampener for the succession plan of All Party Hurriyat Conference (Geelani) following the recent resignation of Syed Ali Shah Geelani as chairman, J&K authorities on Sunday morning detained Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chairman Ashraf Sehrai under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
Sehrai was emerging as a frontrunner to lead APHC (G) after Geelani’s exit. Seen by the security establishment as yet another hardliner who was in the news due to the recent killing of his son, Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Junaid Sehrai, in a counter-terror operation, Ashraf Sehrai purportedly had support not only within Kashmir but also enjoyed the blessings of Pakistan’s ISI, which is said to guide and fund APHC (G), to lead the faction.
Sehrai, who was once close to Geelani but had lately developed differences with him over several issues including finances, was tipped to be named as APHC (G) chairman in the days to come and was already getting active to assume the new role. His detention under PSA, under which a person can be held without trial for long periods, is bound to put the APHC (G) succession plan on hold.
Official sources said a police party arrested Sehrai around 5.30 am from Barzulla in Srinagar on Sunday. His son Rashid Sehrai said, “Police came around 5.30 am and asked for my father and took him along. I went to the police station with medicines as he is suffering from many diseases, and clothes after the DGP confirmed PSA on him through a tweet. The officials told me he has been lodged in Udhampur.”
Sehrai had migrated to Srinagar from Sopore, Baramulla, in the early nineties to spearhead the separatist movement in the city centre and had purchased a house in Barzulla near Sadar police station.
The Hurriyat Conference is an amalgam of various groups and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is one of the constituents of the Geelani faction. Geelani had resigned as head of APHC (G) on June 29 and nominated one Abdullah Geelani, presently living in Islamabad, as the new chief of the faction’s PoK chapter. Notably, Geelani left the Kashmir Hurriyat chapter headless which resulted in confusion among separatist cadres.
Reports suggested that ISI was planning to nominate Ashraf Sehrai as head of the Hurriyat Conference in order to keep the separatist movement live and make him issue diktats like strike calls to people from Srinagar.
This was necessitated after Geelani’s family last week distanced itself from the announcement of a strike call coinciding with the death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, given in the name of Geelani on his ‘letterhead’ from Pakistan.
This created a row between the Geelani family and Pakistan-sponsored separatist leaders. Interestingly, Sehrai was not jailed in the run-up to or after the nullification of Article 370 but kept under house arrest for some time.

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