“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
– Robert Fros
Another journalist has fallen prey to bullets of terrorists in Kashmir. The killing of Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir, in the heart `of Srinagar on the eve of Eid, is a huge loss for the state. The continuing tragedy of Kashmir has claimed its latest victim. Bukhari, 50, and his two personal security officers (PSOs) were shot dead by terrorists outside the newspaper’s office in the heart of Srinagar soon after he got into his car. As the news of his cold-blooded killing spread, social media reacted with surprise and disgust about the cowardly act as politicians, journalists and common people expressed their condolences and condemnation at the barbaric act. Thousands of friends and admirers on Friday joined the funeral procession of the veteran journalist, who was laid to rest in his ancestral village in Kreeri. Braving heavy rain, crowds of tearful mourners from across the Valley followed the cortege through the streets of this sleepy hamlet in Baramulla district. Bukhari was a veteran, a primer of journalistic brilliance in the Valley and a ‘voice of sanity’ in Kashmir. Even the last reports he shared on his timeline were about the first United Nations report on human rights violation in Kashmir.
Bukhari was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in the Kashmir Valley. He was also part of the Track II process with Pakistan. The killing of veteran journalist Bukhari has once again put the spotlight on the freedom of press, or the lack of it, in Jammu and Kashmir. Nineteen journalists, including Bukhari, have been killed in this trouble-torn state – either directly targeted or caught in the cross-fire – while several more have been injured. Bukhari, who vociferously argued for human rights and independence of journalists even hours before his death, had himself written just three months ago that survival is the first challenge for any journalism venture in Kashmir. “In Kashmir, we have done journalism with pride and will continue to highlight what happens on ground,” read one of his last tweets. Hours after this tweet, the journalist was silenced by unknown assailants.
In a column he wrote for Rising Kashmir, the slain journalist had backed the government’s announcement of ceasefire during Ramzan: “Whether these linkages can be stitched together or not, the ground for creating a space for peace and reconciliation is not missing on both sides.” His urge for peace and dialogue to resolve Kashmir issue never found support from the militants. Perhaps he paid heavy price for seeking peace and for speaking the truth. It can be said that the Centre’s move to declare unilateral ceasefire during the holy month of Ramzan culminated with the killing of Bukhari. It’s quite clear that terror outfits did not want ceasefire. That said the ceasefire is a big mistake. Media in Kashmir has been operating in a testing situation in Kashmir for all these decades of crisis and Bukhari’s murder is yet another shameful attack on the media in Kashmir.