[Kabir’s Note: This is extremely tragic. We don’t know who the gunmen were. But this is an attack on freedom of expression and a great loss to Kashmir’s media fraternity]
New Delhi: Veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari, editor-in-chief of the Srinagar-based newspaper Rising Kashmir, was shot dead on Thursday by unknown assailants.
Two personal security officers were also critically injured in the attack that took place in Srinagar’s Press Colony. While one succumbed to his injuries, the other is battling for his life at SKIMS hospital. According to local reports, the journalist “received multiple bullets in the head and abdomen”.
None of the terrorist groups active in the Valley have so far claimed responsibility. The last time a journalist was killed in Kashmir was over a decade ago. Srinagar itself saw killings in 2003, when Parvaz Muhammad Sultan, a reporter for a local news agency, was shot dead by gunmen in his office, and August 2000, when a bomb blast killed Pradeep Bhatia, a photographer with the Hindustan Times.
It is possible that Bukhari’s assassination is also linked to efforts by terrorist groups to disrupt the ceasefire Delhi has declared for the month of Ramzan. Last week, Bukhari wrote an article welcoming the ceasefire and expressing the hope that it could break the cycle of violence.
Bukhari, who had been based in Srinagar, had been running the Rising Kashmir for a little over a decade. Coming from an illustrious family of Kashmir – with a journalist as father, his elder brother Syed Basharat Bukhari serving as law minister in the Mehbooba Mufti government and another a government servant – Shujaat was one of the most respected names in Indian journalism.
Prior to launching his own newspaper, he was bureau chief of The Hindu in Srinagar for nearly 15 years. Widely travelled, Bukhari used to write in Kashmiri and Urdu as well as English. He was also the president of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, the biggest and oldest cultural and literary organisation of the Valley.
A voice of reason and sanity, Bukhari did not flinch from highlighting human rights abuses and consistently advocated dialogue as the way for resolution of Kashmir’s problems.