Shujaat Bukhari murder meticulously planned, say cops; 'Indian agencies' involved, claims United Jihad Council

Srinagar: Another youth was caught in a video snatching the pistol of one of the personal security officers (PSOs) of Shujat and he later fled from the spot. He has been taken into custody and the pistol was also recovered from him while the investigation was going on in the case. Police officials said that after the fourth youth took away the pistol, he disappeared in the crowd. Two pistols were issued to the PSOs of the journalist and one weapon was missing from the place.

Police officials said that a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Central Kashmir range would investigate the case.

File image of journalist Shujaat Bukhari. Twitter@ShujaatBukhari

File image of journalist Shujaat Bukhari. Twitter@ShujaatBukhari

According to police officials investigating the case, of the four youth one was keeping watch and gestured to his associates as soon as the senior journalist stepped out of his office and boarded his vehicle to head home. In no time, the two others appeared on the motorcycle and fired indiscriminately on the vehicle leading to the death of the senior journalist and the cops accompanying him. The attack was pulled off within a few minutes on Thursday evening.

After spraying the vehicle with bullets, the gunmen fired into the air to prevent people from taking the occupants of the car to the hospital. The gunmen soon left the place shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great). Although the three were taken to a medical facility at the police control room by the cops, later they were declared dead on arrival.

Initial investigation revealed that the assailants were carrying two rifles in a burlap bag and after the killing, the third youth who was waiting for the senior journalist to step out from his office also rode with them and they fled from the place within minutes of the incident. "The gunmen took the route towards Regal Chowk and left from the Samandarbagh area and reached the Barbarshah bridge from where they escaped," said a police official.

Police have released the CCTV footage of the three bike-borne youths, but they are also accessing the footage from the areas through which they fled from the spot. However, the investigation by the police has also discovered that the gunfire was mistaken as the sound of crackers and since the killing was carried out within minutes the security personnel who were deployed for duty at the Press Enclave didn’t respond to the attack.

Earlier in the afternoon, police circulated the image of a fourth suspect on Twitter and appealed to the people for any information on him. However, within hours, the police could nab the fourth suspect, making him the first arrest in the high-profile case.

Moreover, the deployment of police from Kothibagh Police Station as well as the District Police Lines (DPL) at different places in the city centre Lal Chowk was withdrawn before the killing. "The deployment was withdrawn and people were preparing to break the fast," said a police official.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail Parray, said that the police have procured the CCTV footage and the role of militants in the killing was being investigated.

However, both the United Jihad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of different militant outfits and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have condemned the killing. LeT chief, Mahmood Shah said that he "strongly condemned the martyrdom" of Shujaat adding that the killing, "is a conspiracy hatched to suppress the voice of indigenous freedom struggle".

"Indian agencies have enmity towards every individual who is loyal to the freedom movement. The world must pay attention to India's vicious and ill-fated conspiracies," the LeT said in the statement.

Shah said that India "is keen on killing every individual who is vocal about the indigenous freedom struggle and India's atrocities".

"India's former army chiefs themselves are taking part in such conspiracies. India's motive behind such a vicious act is to blame Mujahideen for their own wrongdoings. But the freedom fighters have never targeted the civilians. The killing of Shujaat Bukhari is also a wrongdoing of India's secret agencies which is a highly condemnable act. India can never hide its terrorist face from the world," said Abdullah Ghazanwi, spokesperson of LeT.

UJC chief and Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin has demanded an international probe into his killing. "At a time when the UN Human Rights Commission released a report on the human rights abuses by Indian forces in Kashmir the killing of Shujaat Bukhari raises many questions," he said in a statement.

He said that Shujaat was vocal about "highlighting the human rights abuses in Kashmir by the Indian forces at the international forum through his newspapers." He is the brother of PDP MLA and Law Minister Basharat Bukhari. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra have condemned the killing. Mehbooba broke down while expressing grief with the bereaved family.

UJC chief said that they have a firm belief that "Indian agencies and their agents were behind the murder of Bukhari".

Shujaat’s body was taken in an ambulance to his ancestral hometown of Kreeri where he was buried as thousands participated in his funeral prayers on Friday.


Updated Date: Jun 15, 2018 20:55 PM

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