SRINAGAR: In a significant development that will have far-reaching consequences, son of a senior separatist leader, Ashraf Sehrai, who recently climbed the ladder to replace Syed Ali Geelani as chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, has reportedly joined militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen today.

Junaid Ashraf, son of Sehrai is reported missing from last three days according to a complaint lodged by his father at a police station in capital Srinagar. Police sources confirmed that a missing case has been filed into the “mysterious” disappearance.

A photo of Junaid, who has reportedly done MBA from the University of Kashmir, brandishing an AK-47 rifle, has gone viral on social media, purportedly claiming that he has joined Hizb taking the alias of Aamir Bhai. However was no independent confirmation about the authenticity of the picture.

Known for keeping a low profile, Sehrai, a close aide of Geelani who untill his elevation in Tehreek-e-Hurriyat acted as its general secretary, refused to speak about the issue, “Whatever I have to say, I have stated in my police complaint. We don’t know his whereabouts,” he said.

A senior police officer said there are rumors of Junaid having joined militancy but he will not confirm them. “We are also investigating the case but we don’t have any information on this (about Junaid having joined militancy),” he said, confirming that a case has been filed.

The development comes days after Geelani handed the baton of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat to Sehrai, one of the few men who have worked with Geelani for decades, after the group’s executive council choose Sehrai as its chairman.

The two jointly formed Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in 2004 after parting ways with Jamaat-i-Islami following a bitter public duel over the latter's alleged support to the ruling PDP in 2002 state assembly elections which brought the party into power for the first time.

According to Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), the octogenarian Geelani, who has been diagnosed with multiple ailments, will continue to be the head of his faction of Hurriyat Conference and he will be the lifelong patron of TeH.

If the development is confirmed, it will be perhaps for the first time in three decade long insurgency that the son of a senior separatist leader, who are often accused by mainstream political parties of pushing “poor man’s son” towards the path of violence, will have joined ranks with militant groups.