A formidable reporter, an incredibly brave editor and an invaluable voice of moderation. That's how the friends and colleagues of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead at Srinagar Press Colony on Thursday, described him.
As the news of the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir being shot dead spread, an outpouring of grief was seen on social media. Veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta said he was mourning the loss of "an incredibly brave editor and an invaluable voice of middle-ground moderation."
Hours before he fell to the bullets of unidentified gunmen, Bukhari vigorously defended his work on Twitter when some Delhi-based journalists accused him of doing "biased" reportage on Kashmir, and had posted the UN report on alleged human rights violations in the Valley.
One of his last tweets read: "First-ever @UNHumanRights report on #Kashmir calls for #international inquiry into multiple violations".
Bukhari, who had a distinguishable tall frame and husky voice, said in another tweet, "In #Kashmir we have done Journalism with pride and will continue to highlight what happens on ground."
Rajdeep Sardesai said Bukhari was a voice of sanity amidst the madness, and added that "he spoke out against both the government in Delhi and violence in the Valley." Senior journalist Siddharth Vardarajan, who was also Bukhari's colleague, described him as "a powerful voice for the embattled media fraternity."
Indeed, Bukhari never shied away from raising his voice against the powerful. After a CRPF vehicle recently mowed down a local in Jammu and Kashmir, Bukhari demanded an explanation from the government and the security forces.
These pictures from #Srinagar downtown are very disturbing. This is horrible way to quell a protest. Government and #CRPF must explain. Is it the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Hope they survive. Pic courtesy #KashmirJournalistsHub pic.twitter.com/WrZ0ENgZbX
— Shujaat Bukhari (@bukharishujaat) June 1, 2018
Bukhari, who earlier worked as The Hindu's Kashmir correspondent, was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in the Valley. He was also part of the Track II diplomacy process with Pakistan.
In an interview with DNA in 2015, Bukhari said that the absence of a political process makes space for militants who find a fertile ground for their activities. Bukhari also aired his disappointments in the Mehbooba Mufti government even as he raised concerns about the security situation. "Do you think I am safe here? Nobody is," Bukhari told the newspaper.
Bukhari completed his Masters in Journalism from Ateneo de Manila University in Manila as a fellow of Asian Centre for Journalism, Singapore.
A recipient of World Press Institute (WPI) USA fellowship and Asian Centre for Journalism Singapore fellowship, Bukhari was the chief of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, the biggest and oldest cultural and literary organisation of Valley, The Indian Express reported.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 21:48 PM