- Days after the new Hurriyat chief called ISIS ideology ‘venomous’ and anti-Kashmir, his son went missing
- Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief decides not to pursue police complaint
Junaid Ashraf, son of the newly elected chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai has joined terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, Jammu and Kashmir police said on Saturday. The information comes barely 24 hours after the separatist leader filing a missing report for his son.
“Junaid Ashraf, the 26-year-old son of Sehrai, has joined the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group,” a police official said.
Earlier this week, Sehrai was appointed chairman of the separatist group after Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who held the post for 15 years, decided to step down.
The newly elected Hurriyat chief is a hardliner known for his radical ideology.
In his first interview as chairman to local Kashmiri media, Sehrai had called the Islamic State ideology’s “venomous” and that their ideology has nothing to do with Kashmir.
He appealed the Kashmiri youth to avoid being influenced by ISIS ideology or go to extremes, and read Islamic books instead.
Sehrai’s interview was released days before Junaid joined the Hizbul militant group.
Junaid, who holds an MBA degree from Kashmir University, reportedly hails from Tikipora village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara. Mannan Wani, the AMU research scholar who joined the Hizbul in January, also hails from the same village. The two have been reported to be friends.
On Saturday, the family had lodged a report with the police after Junaid went missing following Friday prayers.
Afterwards, an image of Junaid holding an AK-47 assault rifle and wearing an armor vest went viral on social media. The accompanying photo caption read “Junaid Ashraf, who has a master’s degree in business administration from Kashmir University, has been code-named Amaar Bhai.”
“His picture wielding an AK-47 rifle was circulated on the social media. A message posted with the picture said Junaid had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) militant outfit,” the officer added.
The family, which had lodged a complaint with the Sadder police station, now said it would not pursue it.
“The only thing we know is that Junaid’s picture with gun surfaced on the social media. We were also called by the police, but we have decided not to pursue the complaint filed with the police. We have stopped looking for him,” Younis said.
Junaid’s taking up arms is the first case of a son of a top-notch separatist leader turning to militancy.
Pertinently, Sehrai recently replaced Syed Ali Geelani as the head of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
Originally hailing from the frontier Kupwara district, the Sehrai family migrated to Srinagar in the 1990s. “The Sehrai family was among the well-off and educated families of Kupwara. It had to migrate in the 1990s,” another family member said.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, central Kashmir, Vidhi Kumar Birdi said the investigation in the case was going on. “We are still investigating whether Junaid has joined militancy or not,” he said.