For the first time in Kashmir that J&K government has requested New Delhi to invoke Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) in the investigation of killing of senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari. To fast-track the investigation of the case, the government also wishes to approach the US under MLAT, seeking assistance “for collection of evidence from social sites” serviced from that country.
The veteran journalist, who was the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir, was killed by gunmen outside his office on June 14 while boarding his vehicle for Iftaar Party. As per sources, the home department of J&K government revealed a letter about the issue and this was forwarded to the joint secretary of the J&K Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),Government of India. The letter stressed on taking up the investigation into the killing of Shujaat
The letter also stated that, “You (MHA) kindly take up the issue with the Central Authority of United States of America for collection of evidence required from social sites having services in USA.” The request for collection of evidence from the USA was made in the case FIR number 51/2018 US 302 RPC, 7/27 A Act, 16, 18,20, ULA Act of police station Kothibagh, Srinagar (Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination).
Swayam Prakash Pani, Inspector general of police Kashmir range confirmed that during the course of investigations, MLAT was processed. He further said that the investigators who were also working on ensuring to get non-bailable warrants issued against all the accused. On June 28, police while claiming to have achieved a breakthrough in Shujaat’s murder, stated that their hectic fortnight-long investigation had traced the conspiracy to a Pakistan-based Kashmiri blogger Sajad Gul whose arrest will be sought through the Interpol by managing a Red Corner Notice.
The IGP Kashmir had also said that three Kashmir based Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives along with a Pakistani militant Naveed Jatt, who escaped the police custody in February this year, executed the plan that was conceived in Pakistan. Jatt was accompanied by a Kulgam resident Azad Malik alias Dada and Muzaffar Ahmad alias Talha from Anantnag when the trio shot Shujaat dead. Meanwhile, Lashkar-e-Toiba in a statement has denied any role in the assassination saying it was ready to cooperate in any international probe into the incident. The United Jehad Council, (an amalgam of various militant) outfits based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir too has distanced itself from the allegations that militants had a role in the assassination. The UJC chief, Syed Salahuddin in a statement also sought an international probe into Shujaat’s assassination.