Voices from within the Valley and the rest of the nation condemned the killing of veteran journalist and Rising Kashmir editor-in-chief Shujaat Bukhari.
Condolence messages and condemnation flooded social media after news broke that the veteran journalist and two of his personal security officers were shot at a close range by three bike-borne assailants. Bukhari and one of his PSO succumbed to their injuries, while the second security officer remains critical.
The incident occurred outside the newspaper's office in the heart of Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar, when Bukhari was leaving his office to attend an iftaar party. Bukhari was killed just a day before Eid, when the Union government has announced a unilateral ceasefire to facilitate peaceful observation of festivities in the Valley.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was among the first to comment. She expressed shock and anguish and appeared visibly upset. Mehbooba also rushed to the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, where Bhukari was taken after the attack, to meet his family. She also issued a condemnation of the terrorists on social media:
Terrorism has hit a new low with Shujaat’s killing. That too, on the eve of Eid. We must unite against forces seeking to undermine our attempts to restore peace. Justice will be done. https://t.co/8oCNXan13L
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) June 14, 2018
Jammu and Kashmir's former chief minister and Opposition leader Omar Abdullah also tweeted prayers for the family and expressed deep anguish. Omar also tweeted his last exchange with the veteran journalist on the micro-blogging site. Omar made sure to mention his grief for the personal security officer who died in the attack, and offered prayers for the well-being of the other security official Omar also quoted Bukhari's last tweet, where the veteran journalist defended his ideological stance and his reportage, and said he died in line of duty. "Even in the last tweet he put out he was defending himself, his colleagues and his profession. He died in the line of duty doing what he did best and loved doing - journalism," Omar's tweet read.
My last DM exchange with #ShujaatBukhari. I can’t believe the mulaqat we were going to fix will never take place now. Life is just too uncertain & often too unkind. pic.twitter.com/8yED2iZKzl — Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 14, 2018
The veteran journalist, in his last tweet, rebuffed allegations that he was a 'quasi-Islamist' and responsible for 'biased reportage'.
It is unfortunate that a credible think tank like @orfonline should allow this diatribe in absence of the person referred to. In #Kashmir we have done Journalism with pride and will continue to highlight what happens on ground. @samirsaran https://t.co/bGjajFT9yb
— Shujaat Bukhari (@bukharishujaat) June 14, 2018
Union home minister Rajnath Singh strongly condemned the killing, called it an act of cowardice and an attempt to disrupt peace efforts in the Valley.
The killing of @RisingKashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari is an act of cowardice. It is an attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir. He was a courageous and fearless journalist. Extremely shocked & pained at his death. My thoughts and prayers are with his bereaved family. — Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 14, 2018
BJP leader Ram Madhav also expressed deep shock. "Shocked to hear about d attack on d Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar. Reprehensible n condemnable cowardly act of d terrorists," Madhav, a former journalist, tweeted minutes after the news broke out.
Union minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore termed the killing a brutal attack on the freedom of press:
Assassination of #ShujaatBukhari is a brutal attack on freedom of press. A cowardly and deplorable act of terror. Our fearless media is one of the greatest strength of our democracy and we are committed to provide a safe and conducive working environment to media persons.
— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) June 14, 2018
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also tweeted his condolences to the family, and hailed Bukhari as a 'brave heart' who propagated peace.
I’m anguished to hear about the killing of Shujaat Bukhari, editor of @RisingKashmir. He was a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu & Kashmir. My condolences to his family. He will be missed. — Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 14, 2018
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also condemned the killing. "I'm anguished to hear about the killing of Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir. He was a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu and Kashmir. My condolences to his family. He will be missed," she said on Twitter.
Journalists across sections of media were united in their condemnation of the murder.
Senior journalist Burkha Dutt put out an emotionally-charged message"
"There is no getting around it : @bukharishujaat has been assassinated for being an advocate for peace and reconciliation; for his refusal to give up hope; for his constant search for Kashmir',s elusive middle ground. A deep professional and personal loss for me," she tweeted.
My friend @bukharishujaat was a rare voice of moderation in Kashmir who pandered to no extremes. May those who did this to him rot in hell. And may this be a moment for Kashmir to take note of the absolute insanity it is slipping into #ShujaatBukhari
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) June 14, 2018
She also criticised online trolls targetting moderate voices and journalists.
Twitter fundamentalists ; pause carefully the next time journalists talk of death threats and pause before you tar people as anti-nationals. Shame on you and Shame on those fulminating primetime hate mongers. and most of all I wish Hell to those who did this to #ShujaatBukhari . — barkha dutt (@BDUTT) June 14, 2018
Sagarika Ghose called Bukhari a 'resolute voice' and expressed a sense of devastation.
What an unspeakable shocking tragedy. #ShujaatBukhari's voice was resolute, strong, yet never shrill, always urging the common ground, constantly optimistic, a kind, thoughtful and wise person, a great friend, a fine journalist. Devastated to hear this news, what a sad sad day https://t.co/RxrCUwMZK1
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) June 14, 2018
Senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, a former colleague, said, "Shujaat Bukhari and I were colleagues at The Hindu. He was a formidable reporter, and, as editor of Rising Kashmir, a powerful voice for the embattled media fraternity, a true voice of sanity and reason. No words of condemnation are enough for the scum who have assassinated him. No words of condemnation are enough for the scum who have assassinated him." Vardarajan also said the assassination looked like an attempt to derail the peace process.
Reminded of Aug 2000, when HT's Pradeep Bhatia & 11 others were killed by a car bomb in SXR. Aim of HM/LeT then was to scuttle Vajpayee's ceasefire & kill prospects for peace. Can't help feeling the terrorists who killed Shujaat Bukhari have same aim https://t.co/0bN0BKOdfO — Siddharth (@svaradarajan) June 14, 2018
Bukhari, who was in his 50s, was leaving his office in Press Enclave in the city centre Lal Chowk for an iftar party when he was shot dead, officials said. Bukhari, who earlier worked with The Hindu newspaper as its Kashmir correspondent, was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in the Valley. He was also part of the Track II process with Pakistan.
Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 21:56 PM