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Screenshot of Rising Kashmir Front Page, June 15, 2018

Senior journalist and editor of ‘Rising Kashmir’ Shujaat Bukhari and his two personal security officers (PSOs) were shot dead by unknown attackers outside his office in Srinagar on Thursday evening.

Bukhari was attacked when he stepped out of his office at Press Colony in the city. Shujaat and two of his PSOs Hamid Chaudhary and Mumtaz Awan sustained multiple injuries in the firing. Shujaat and Chaudhary died on the spot while Mumtaz was shifted to SMHS hospital in critical condition. Mumtaz succumbed to injuries in the hospital in the evening.

Both the PSOs hail from Karnah area of border district of Kupwara. Bukhari, who was in his 50s, received a volley of bullets shattering the window panes of his vehicle and leaving him and the two policemen in a pool of blood. The shooting comes a day ahead of Eid.

Who is Shujaat Bukhari?

Syed Shujaat Bukhari was a veteran journalist of Jammu and Kashmir. He was the Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir, a Srinagar-based local daily newspaper. He was born in a village of Keeri Baramulla in 1964. Bukhari had done Masters in Journalism from Ateneo de Manila University, and also is a fellow of Asian Centre for Journalism, Singapore.

He was a recipient of World Press Institute (WPI) USA fellowship and Asian Centre for Journalism Singapore fellowship. He was earlier the Bureau Chief of The Hindu and also the President of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, the biggest and oldest cultural and literary organization of Valley.

Bhukhari was also the founding editor of first Kashmiri newspaper “Sangarmal”. He is survived by parents, wife and two children. His body was taken to his native place at Kreeri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, where he will be laid to rest on Friday at his ancestral graveyard at 11 am.

His death comes a day after the First-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir, that has called for an international inquiry into multiple violations. The 49-page report, the first ever issued by the UN on the human rights situation in Kashmir details human rights violations and abuses and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces. Bhukari throughout his career highlighted the human rights disaster occurring in the Valley.

Earlier Attacks

‘’ reports that on July 8th, 1996, Indian Government-backed militant group ‘Ikhwan’ (a now disbanded pro-government militia) abducted 19 local journalists in Anantnag district and held them hostages for at least seven hours. Bukhari was one among those abducted.

Reporters without Borders, an International NGO that promotes Freedom of Press, had reported that in 2006, as Bukhari left his office (then The Indian Express) in Srinagar, he was abducted by two men who drove him several kilometers away from the city.

However, when one of them tried to shoot the journalist, the gun jammed and Bukhari managed to escape. Bukhari later told ‘Reporters Without Borders’ that the instigators and perpetrators of this kind of attack are rarely caught in Kashmir. “It is virtually impossible to know who our enemies are and who our friends are,” he had said.

Condolences Pour In

People from various spheres including Politicians, Separatists, and Journalists condemned the killing of Shujaat Bukhari and termed this as an act of cowardice.

Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has strongly condemned the killing of veteran journalist and Editor of daily Rising Kashmir, Dr. Syed Shujaat Bukhari, who was killed this evening at his office in Srinagar.

In a condolence message, the Chief Minister described the killing of Bukhari as highly barbaric, deplorable and condemnable. His killing today has only established that violence cannot stand the scrutiny of logic and rationality, she said in her statement adding the whole State today stands in unanimity in condemning this inhuman act of savagery.

Mehbooba Mufti said the role and contribution rendered by Shujaat Bukhari in institutionalisation the media here has become part of the journalistic history of the State. “One would always see him raising issues of common cause concerning people. He would often fight for the issues of people through his columns and various discussions but alas this voice of people stands silenced today brutally”, she added in her message.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Geelani said that it is against the moral and human ethics to kill a person without any justification. Regretting such mysterious killings the Hurriyat leader said the difference of opinion is no way a crime to kill a person. Geelani Sahab, while paying his condolences to the bereaved family of the young journalist, prayed for his eternal peace.

Chairman Jammu Kashmir liberation front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik has strongly condemned the brutal killing of Bhukari. Terming this attack on a saner Kashmiri voice as a barbaric, gruesome and direct assault on freedom of speech and expression, JKLF chairman said that Kashmir has today lost a balanced voice at the hands of ruthless assailants and this is actually a moment of mourning for all of us.

Moderate Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted “deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic news of Shujaat Bukhari’s killing! Such inhumanity is unpardonable and condemned in the strongest terms! Proud son of the soil his death is a huge loss. Shujaat was an erudite intellectual a fearless journalist and above all, a selfless human deeply concerned for his people. My heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. ”

United Jihad Council chief and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin has demanded an international probe into the killing of senior journalist and Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari last evening in Srinagar.

Condemning the killing, Salahuddin, according to a statement, said that Bukhari would always highlight the human rights abuses in Kashmir at the international forum through his newspapers.

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