Some lesser known facts about Muhammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai
Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Monday replaced the octogenarian pro-freedom leader Syed Ali Geelani as the new chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH).
The development came in the wake of a decision by the Majlis-e-Shora (Advisory board) after taking the health and age of Geelani into consideration. The elections were long overdue since August 2016.
Here are some must known facts of Sehrai.
1. Sehrai’s ancestors migrated to Lolab from Pakistan before partition. Born to Shams-ud-Din Khan in 1944 at Tikipora Lolab, Sehrai did his primary from Tikipora and high school from Sogam Lolab. He did his B A (Hons) from Aligarh Muslim University ( AMU).
2. Both of his brothers were members of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir. Witnessing intelligence and enthusiasm in Sehrai, they persuaded him to meet Syed Ali Shah Geelani who was then Ameer e Zilla of Jamaat-e-Islami in Baramullah. Inspired by character of Geelani and writings of Syed Abul Aala Moududi, Sehrai joined JeI in 1959 and till now continues to be like a shadow of Geelani as well as member of Jamaat. Geelani fondly calls him as “AshLal.”
3. Sehrai was jailed for the first time in 1965. He was under arrest for six months. Being fond of literature and poetry, when Sehrai had written “Sehrai” on a paper, Wali Muhammad Shah, his jailmate and now a active member of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat showed it to Geelani who kept it as title of Muhammad Ashraf.
4. Sehrai is considered to be a very brave and enthusiastic personality. After the Indra-Abdullah accord in 1975, Jama’at nominated him as candidate for contesting assembly elections from Ganderbal constituency against Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Though the win of Sheikh was a forgone conclusion owing to his popularity but the step of Sehrai was to dare, counter and deter the hegemony of National Conference. Young Sehrai not only lost but was kept under captivity for two days by National Conference activists for such a daring step. His activists were also beaten which includes Late Sa’dullah Tantray of Doda, whose right eye was completely damaged.
5. In 1977 JeI established it’s students wing. Sehrai was selected to head Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba J&K. Sehrai then 32 served as its president from 1977 to 1979.
4. Firebrand Sehrai distanced himself and his party from MUF’s controversial statement giving primacy to developmental issues over struggle for resolution of Kashmir dispute.
5. He is said to have single handedly managed to take care of his parent organisation’s affairs, when its entire leadership was behind bars.
6. Though he continues to be member of JeI, he joined Geelani in setting up Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in August 2004.
7. Considered to be very principled and strict in discipline and party affairs, Sehrai is said to have suspended many of TeH members for being inactive and ideologically deviant. Even grounded membership request of Geelani’s elder son, Dr Naeem-u-Zaffar Geelani for failing to qualify party’s constitutional standards.
8. Being a shadow of Geelani since 1959, he was seen as a natural heir to his mentor. Putting to end years of speculations about Geelani’s succession, the Central Advisory Council of TeH on 17th March elected Sehrai as chairman after Geelani stepped aside from the top post.
Having donned Geelani’s long worn mantle, will Sehrai be able to fill up the vacuum created by Geelani’s withdrawal, only time will decide.