Junaid Sehrai, son of hardline Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Ashraf Sehrai, was among the two Hizbul-Mujahideen terrorists killed in an encounter with security forces in downtown Srinagar on Tuesday. Four personnel from CRPF along with two policemen from Special Operation Group were injured in the gunfight which broke out around 2:40 AM at congested Nawa Kadal area of Srinagar.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Kashmir range, Vijay Kumar, said the two Hizbul terrorists were killed in the encounter without revealing their identities. However, the killing of Junaid was also later confirmed by the Director-General of Police, Jammu & Kashmir, Dilbag Singh, in a press conference in Srinagar today.
Junaid, the Hizbul’s “divisional commander”, is the younger son of Mohammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai, the chairperson of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Kashmir. Two weapons and ammunition have been recovered from the encounter site. Junaid Sehrai had also figured in the top 10 most-wanted list of terrorists last week after the killing of Hizbul chief Riyaz Naikoo at Beighpora, Awantipora on May 6.
Reports said security forces blasted the two houses where terrorists were hiding. This is the first encounter after two years in the downtown area of Srinagar city. The last encounter was reported in February 2018 when terrorists tried to carry a fidayeen attack on CRPF in Karan Nagar area of the city.
“The area is congested and we are taking full time to ensure that there is no collateral damage,” a police official, overseeing the operation said. Mobile internet and mobile telephony services, except on BSNL postpaid, have been snapped in Srinagar as a precautionary measure.
This is for the first time that son of any senior separatist leader of the stature of Sehrai has been killed in Kashmir. Junaid Sehrai went missing in March 2018 and later his picture, brandishing an AK-47, went viral on social media.
Sehrai junior, an MBA from Kashmir University actually hails from Tikipora village in northern Kupwara, from where Mannan Wani, a former Ph.D. scholar from Aligarh Muslim University who took up militancy in January, also hailed. Wani was killed on October 11, 2018, by security forces after joining the Hizbul.
The 76-year-old Sehrai was elected chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in 2018 after Syed Ali Geelani relinquished his post. Geelani was the founding chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat since it was formed in 2004, while Sehrai was the organization’s general secretary.