A col­league of slain Kash­miri jour­nal­ist Shu­jaat Bukhari, who was killed re­cently in broad day­light on the streets of Sri­na­gar, re­mem­bers the man and his mar­tyr­dom

Society - - CONTENTS - By Sameer Showkin Lone

What hap­pened on the day when Shu­jaat Bukhari was shot dead on a busy street of Sri­na­gar? What was the slain Kash­miri jour­nal­ist like? A first­hand ac­count on the man who dared…

The hor­ren­dous in­ci­dent hap­pened amidst Eid cel­e­bra­tions in the busy street of Lal Chowk. It still gives us chills down our spine. Sur­viv­ing three pre­vi­ous at­tempts of as­sas­si­na­tion since the 90s, this was the one he suc­cumbed to. The whole me­dia fra­ter­nity mourned over his demise and we, at the Ris­ing Kash­mir, be­came or­phaned. The slain jour­nal­ist Shu­jaat Bukhari needs no in­tro­duc­tion, nei­ther in his na­tive place Jammu and Kash­mir (J&K) nor at any in­ter­na­tional level. But where Kash­mir is con­cerned, it is dif­fi­cult to think of a Kash­mir with­out Shu­jaat saab. He was not only a fear­less jour­nal­ist but some­one, who was very vo­cal about his thoughts for the wel­fare of the peo­ple in J&K. He was grief-stricken by the killings in the val­ley. He would of­ten say, “On ev­ery side, it is a Kash­miri who gets killed. I want the Kash­miri youth to ex­cel in ev­ery sphere of life.” He was al­ways wor­ried about young­sters in Kash­mir and wanted them to ex­cel in their stud­ies. Yes, he wanted ev­ery Kash­miri stu­dent to crack the Civil Ser­vices ex­am­i­na­tion and yes, he wanted to help the youth come out of the dark. His con­nec­tion with Kash­miri peo­ple was such that even the fruit ven­dors in Lal Chowk would seek his

help if they faced ex­cesses from the ad­min­is­tra­tion in the name of en­croach­ing road­side stalls. A noted award-win­ning Kash­miri poet and pro­fes­sor, Rah­man Rahi, re­mem­bers Shu­jaat saab as ‘Kash­mir’s Par­cham (Flag)’ and it’s ‘San­gar­mal ( foun­da­tion)’. His killing in broad day­light along with his two PSOs (Per­sonal Se­cu­rity Of­fi­cer) by three un­known gun­men in Sri­na­gar’s press colony has shocked us all and left a void of sorts. He was among the rare breed of jour­nal­ists who called a spade a spade. He was not only a jour­nal­ist, but an in­sti­tu­tion of jour­nal­ism in him­self. With his killing, Kash­mir has lost a vi­tal bal­ance in jour­nal­ism. As some­body at his fu­neral right­fully re­marked, “Jour­nal­ism of courage has taken a se­vere beat­ing”. As far as I have known Shu­jaat sa­hab through­out my long as­so­ci­a­tion with him, he had a great ca­pac­ity for re­la­tion­ships and glided through so­cial set­tings with ease. His ca­reer be­gan as a re­porter with Kash­mir Times, where he was in­spired by its great Ed­i­tor, late Ved Bhasin. Later, he be­came the Sri­na­gar cor­re­spon­dent for The Hindu in the hey­days of mil­i­tancy. He has worked for na­tional and in­ter­na­tional pub­li­ca­tions, due to which his works make up for an ar­chive of con­flict. He prac­tised a jour­nal­ism of hope, priv­i­lege into pur­pose and re­tained his sen­si­tiv­ity and ob­jec­tiv­ity till his last breath. He would of­ten say, “Death will come and when you have to die, no one can save you.” As I was writ­ing this ar­ti­cle, a text mes­sage flashed on my mo­bile. It was one of my close friends. The mes­sage read: “Bhai aap jour­nal­ist ka kaam chodho... go for Civil Ser­vices. (Brother, leave the job of a jour­nal­ist and go for Civil Ser­vices) I smiled and con­tin­ued to pay my trib­ute to my boss, my men­tor, my elder brother and the war­rior of jour­nal­ism in Kash­mir. For the college and univer­sity pass outs, who were look­ing for in­tern­ships, Bukhari’s Ris­ing Kash­mir news­pa­per was the des­ti­na­tion. Jour­nal­ism stu­dents not only from Kash­mir, but places as far as Hy­der­abad and Mum­bai would come and intern at Ris­ing Kash­mir un­der the lead­er­ship of Shu­jaat saab. When I com­pleted my Masters in Jour­nal­ism from Is­lamic Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in the year 2011, I had no idea where to go and what to

do. I didn’t even know Shu­jaat saab then. But I some­how man­aged to ap­proach his of­fice through the then Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­i­tor Riyaz Mas­roor, who in­tro­duced me to Shu­jaat saab. I got the op­por­tu­nity to intern with Ris­ing Kash­mir. Two months later, I was hired as the City Re­porter. Shu­jaat Sa­hab held my hand like hun­dreds of other jour­nal­ists. He taught me what we were not taught in Jour­nal­ism School. He would al­ways en­cour­age like an elder brother and would hardly say no to any­thing. Edi­tors like him are born once in a life­time. His killing is a big­ger loss to the in­sti­tu­tion of jour­nal­ism as a whole, es­pe­cially in J&K. For­tu­nate are those stu­dents who got to work un­der the men­tor­ship of Shu­jaat Bukhari. The hard re­al­ity is that he is no more with us, but his traits and teach­ings will re­main in many of his stu­dents. And I am no ex­cep­tion. One Shu­jaat Bukhari has been killed, but the seeds of fear­less jour­nal­ism have been sown by him in the con­flict rav­aged val­ley. And the seeds will bear growth. The trees will grow and grow like Kash­mir’s Chi­nar trees. The Chi­nar is a na­tional tree of J&K and an in­te­gral part of Kash­miri cul­ture. You cut its branch, it will grow an­ try to cut it down, it will be protested by its lovers... RIP Shu­jaat Bukhari, you lived the life of a hero and died as a mar­tyr! You will go down in Kash­mir’s tu­mul­tuous his­tory as a hero who bravely faced bul­lets. (The writer is a Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent at Ris­ing Kash­mir—the news­pa­per founded by Shu­jaat Bukhari)

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