Shujaat Bukhari killing a terror-related crime, say Jammu and Kashmir Police; claim weapon retrieved from suspect in custody

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday said that the murder of veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari was a 'terror-related killing.'

Updating the media on the discoveries made so far, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir SP Pani said, "As far as the case is concerned at this stage it is a terror incident. It is a terrorist related crime. We are investigating into the case."

The police, which was initially probing the role of three militants, had released a screen grab showing another fourth suspect in connection with the killing of Bukhari and his two personal guards, Hamid Chaudhary and Mumtaz Awan, in Srinagar on Thursday. The police issued the picture from a video, which was purportedly recorded by a passerby following the attack on Bukhari outside his office, showing a bearded man surveying the inside of the journalist's vehicle.

As a man pulls out Bukhari's guard, the suspect is seen picking up a pistol and disappearing from the scene right under the nose of the policemen deployed there.

Speaking to the press, Pani also said that the weapon removed by the fourth suspect has been recovered and the investigation to determine his role is underway.

"The first picture of the suspects were not in the public domain. The second picture was in public domain. It can be seen that he stood there, attempting to retrieve the weapon... At this stage we are investigating the role of the fourth suspect, who was was seen picking up the weapon," Pani said.

The fist picture that Pani was referring to was released late last night. The police had issued two photographs of three-motorcycle borne suspects that were taken from the CCTV footage. However, their faces were not visible. While the driver was wearing a helmet, one of the pillion riders had used a face mask to conceal his identity. The face of the third assailant, sitting in the middle, did not seem to be covered but he was leaning towards the other side so as not to be captured on the CCTV.

The image from CCTV recording of alleged suspects fleeing the spot. Image procured by Ishfaq Naseem

The image from CCTV recording of alleged suspects fleeing the spot. Twitter @KashmirPolice

The police has sought the help of the general public to arrest the remaining three accused in the case. They have formed a Special Investigation Team to lead the enquiry into the case. The SIT will be led by a DIG rank officer.

Police say murder was meticulously planned

Besides this, according to a Firstpost ground report, initial investigation revealed that two bike-borne 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.

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).

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. 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.

Fifty-three-year-old Bukhari, who had worked as the state correspondent for national daily The Hindu for several years, and was the editor-in-chief of local newspaper The Rising Kashmir, was shot dead soon after he boarded his car from his office located at Press Enclave in the heart of the city centre — Lal Chowk.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2018 20:07:41 IST

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