Asia - Pacific

UN probe sought into death of Kashmiri leader Ashraf Sehrai

Malaysian group says 77-year-old gave his life to liberation struggle

Dandy Koswaraputra   | 09.05.2021
UN probe sought into death of Kashmiri leader Ashraf Sehrai

JAKARTA, Indonesia

Denouncing the recent death of pro-freedom Kashmiri leader Ashraf Sehrai in Indian custody, a Malaysian group has demanded the UN to probe the matter.

“We call the UN to launch a concerted effort to probe the death of Sehrai while in custody. The custodial murder of Sehrai cannot be left uninvestigated,” said Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organizations (MAPIM).

Sehrai, chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat pro-freedom group in Indian-administered Kashmir, died at a hospital in Jammu province on May 5.

He was shifted to hospital from a jail in Udhampur, about 60 km (37 miles) from the hospital for respiratory distress. The 77-year-old was in "preventive detention" since July 2020.

Sehrai was a close confidante and most influential pro-freedom leader after Syed Ali Geelani, the septuagenarian who has been under house detention for the better part of the past decade.

Hamid said Sehrai was “a fully dedicated leader who has given his life in the struggle for the liberation of Kashmir.”

“He will aspire all freedom fighters to continue to persevere and face all odds to achieve justice and self-determination for Kashmir."

“His struggle must continue,” the statement said. “His martyrdom in the holy Ramadan is a reward from the Almighty which we pray that his soul will be in the comfort of the companies of the shuhada [martyrs].”

“Sehrai was incarcerated illegally for the last two years as a prisoner of conscience. He has been criminalized by the fascist Indian government not only because of his adamant political struggle to free Kashmir but also for his commitment to strengthen Muslim Kashmiris, to support the building of an Islamic-based development model,” the MAPIM president said.

Hamid also condemned “ill-treatment of Kashmir detainees by India to the extent of denying their medical care needs and literally left the prisoners to perish.”

“The non-provision of much-needed medicines which resulted in Sehrai's health fast deteriorated is clearly intentional by the Indian authorities to break the resistance of Kashmiris and compel them to succumb to India's aggression,” he said.

“Sehrai's death will not be the end of the struggle but a motivating and inspiring push for all Kashmiris freedom fighters to continue their right for justice and a life of dignity."

He urged world powers and human rights organizations not to turn "a blind eye on the plight of Kashmir prisoners of conscience."

“We stand in solidarity with the struggle of Ashraf Sehrai and pray the fighting spirit he exemplified will boost the morale of all Kashmir freedom fighters."


- Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

On Aug. 5, 2019 the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the country’s only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories.

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