Top Kash­mir editor shot dead in Sri­na­gar at­tack

TAR­GETED 2 body­guards also killed; Ra­j­nath blames ter­ror­ists

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - Mir Eh­san let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ▪

SRI­NA­GAR: A se­nior jour­nal­ist and chief editor of a pop­u­lar Kash­miri news­pa­per was killed on Thursday by uniden­ti­fied gun­men in a drive-by shoot­ing in Sri­na­gar that put an al­ready tense state on edge and led chief min­is­ter Me­hbobba Mufti to de­scribe the at­tack as a “new low for ter­ror­ism”.

Shu­jaat Bukhari, 48, the editor-in-chief of Ris­ing Kash­mir, was tar­geted by three gun­men on a mo­tor­cy­cle while he was in his car, hav­ing just left his Press Colony of­fice just be­fore If­tar. He was ac­com­pa­nied by two se­cu­rity guards, Ab­dul Hameed and Mum­taz Ah­mad, who were also killed as mul­ti­ple bul­lets were sprayed at them.

Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh said “there is no doubt that ter­ror­ists have killed Shu­jaat Bhukhari.” He also spoke to the Jammu and Kash­mir CM Me­hbooba Mufti late on Wednesday, and said she was “dis­traught”.

A jour­nal­ist for three decades, he had worked for 15 years at The Hindu and was known in the state and the rest of the coun­try as an im­por­tant Kash­miri voice. No mil­i­tant or­gan­i­sa­tion had taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack by the time of go­ing to print. Bukhari was an ad­vo­cate of a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion of the Kash­mir is­sue and was in­stru­men­tal in or­gan­is­ing sev­eral con­fer­ences in­volv­ing for­mer diplo­mats and gen­er­als from In­dia and Pak­istan.

He was also part of the Track-II diplo­matic process with the neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

The killing led to an out­pour­ing of con­do­lence mes­sages from peo­ple on all sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, in­clud­ing sep­a­ratist lead­ers.

“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,” the home min­is­ter tweeted. “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,” said Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi in a tweet.

Chief min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti, who went to Bukhari’s house to meet his fam­ily, broke down while speak­ing about him. “This is re­ally shock­ing. He came to meet me a few days back. This is up­set­ting...,” she said. Bukhari is sur­vived by his wife and two chil­dren.

“Deeply sad­dened and shocked by the tragic news of Shu­jaat Bukharis killing! Such in­hu­man­ity is un­par­don­able and con­demned in the strong­est terms! Proud son of the soil his death is a huge loss. Shu­jaat was an eru­dite in­tel­lec­tual a fear­less jour­nal­ist and above all a self­less hu­man deeply con­cerned for his peo­ple. My heart­felt con­do­lences to his be­reaved fam­ily. Pray to almighty for his mag­fi­rat and place in Jan­nat,” tweeted Mir­waiz Umar Fa­rooq, who is chair­man of the sep­a­ratist All Par­ties Hur­riyat Con­fer­ence.

His brother Syed Basharat Bukhari is the horticulture min­is­ter in the Jammu and Kash­mir gov­ern­ment. A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer said that gun­men had opened fire on Bukhari and his se­cu­rity guards from two sides. “He (Bukhari) has sev­eral bul­let in­juries and prob­a­bly died on the spot,’’ the of­fi­cer said.

An­other po­lice of­fi­cer who reached the spot soon af­ter the at­tack said the guards, who were car­ry­ing weapons, had been taken by sur­prise. He said that they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the gun­men had used small arms or ri­fles, which would be con­firmed af­ter a de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion of the shells by bal­lis­tic ex­perts.Bukhari’s col­league at Ris­ing Kash­mir, Ish­faq Ah­mad, said he had just left the of­fice. “Within min­utes, we heard gun­shots. I can’t be­lieve that our editor is dead.’’ For­mer Jammu and Kash­mir chief min­is­ter Omar Ab­dul­lah said that Bukhari had died in the line of duty. “Even in the last tweet he put out, he was de­fend­ing him­self, his col­leagues & his pro­fes­sion. He died in the line of duty do­ing what he did best & loved do­ing – jour­nal­ism,’’ Ab­dul­lah tweeted.

Bukhari had writ­ten in the tweet at 11.33am that he and his col­leagues had “done Jour­nal­ism with pride and will con­tinue to high­light what hap­pens on ground”, in re­sponse to a tweet that had de­scribed him as in­tol­er­ant. The Cen­tre had on May 16 an­nounced a uni­lat­eral cease­fire in Jammu and Kash­mir dur­ing Ramzan, say­ing this was nec­es­sary to help “peace lov­ing Mus­lims” ob­serve the holy month in a peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment.

Bukhari’s killing has cast a cloud of un­cer­tainty over the ex­ten­sion of the Ramzan halt to oper­a­tions against mil­i­tants in Jammu and Kash­mir, which, ac­cord­ing to few se­cu­rity agen­cies, has al­lowed mil­i­tants to re­group. The pros and cons of ex­tend­ing the so-called uni­lat­eral cease­fire were ear­lier dis­cussed at a meet­ing called by home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh, of­fi­cials said.

Dur­ing the one-month cease­fire, three lo­cal po­lice­men, four civil­ians, three army sol­diers and 24 mil­i­tants have been killed in more than 60 in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence.

AP PHOTO

▪ Rel­a­tives and friends of Bukhari re­act in shock .

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