t’s not a murder of a journalist — it’s the murder of the Indian media. It does necessitate all media partners now to combat against all these evils existing in the inhumane act. Journalists’ freedom of speech is the voice of people. This indicates conspiracies by many departments. Peace talks with the terrorists, Peace talks with the separatists, Peace talks with Pakistan, hand over Kashmir to them and let’s go to sleep — these are exactly the situation. The government should understand the language of the terrorists and deal with it accordingly without letting the innocent getting sacrificed. Shujaat Bukhari was the Editor of Srinagar based ‘Rising Kashmir’ newspaper. Shujaat was the President of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, a cultural and literary organisation in Kashmir. He was instrumental in organising several Kashmir peace conferences and was a part of the Track II diplomacy with Pakistan.
On June 14, 2018, he was shot dead by some unidentified assailants outside his office in the Press Enclave area of Srinagar. He had survived three assassination attempts on previous occasions. His two Jammu and Kashmir Police bodyguards were also killed in the attack; one on the spot, the other later at the hospital and a civilian were also injured in the attack.
Police released CCTV footages of the suspects believed to be responsible for the killing — one with his face covered in a helmet, the other two shrouded with masks on a motorcycle and an another bearded man, wearing a white shirt, checking on Bukhari right after he was shot — and sought help of the public to identify them. However, it is difficult to identify these culprits in a place like Kashmir. No one claimed the responsibility for the killing. Peerzada Ashiq of The Hindu newspaper, for whom Bukhari earlier worked, blamed “unknown gunmen” for the killing, while ABP News blamed the killing on terrorists. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed the killing “an act of cowardice” and fulfilled his duties. That is what he is famous for; just rendering the “Kadi Ninda” (strong verbal condemnation), but no efforts ever made in any of the cases. He is one of the most useless and inefficient Home Ministers of Independent India. Pakistani jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba was quoted as having “strongly condemned” the killing and blaming it on the “enmity” of “Indian agencies” towards every individual who is “loyal to the freedom movement”. His brother Basharat Bukhari is the Law Minister in Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet, who is equally helpless in nabbing the suspects.
Murder of Shujaat Bukhari is a wakeup call for all the political leaders of the Kashmir valley. They must reconsider their stand on having sympathy for the terror groups trained in Pakistan or funded by the Pakistan government’s intelligence wing ISI. Supporting such groups is not in the interest of the ordinary people of Kashmir. Azadi is ordinary Kashmiri’s demand and if it is within the framework of our Constitution, it is okay. The fact is that Azadi for Kashmir is not a demand of Pakistan, or terror groups like JuD, LeT or Taliban. Pakistan will use these organisations to frighten ordinary citizens of the Kashmir valley, who will have to suffer like the Pandits. They will be driven out of their homes by the terror groups or killed. It is still not too late to reconsider the support for terror. No political leader has the will to see Kashmir at peace because if the valley is in peace the biggest issue of India with its enemy neighbours gets settled and this will not be much fruitful for the political health. Think, ‘who benefits’ from gunning down a journalist from a close range, is the question we should be asking.
In April this year, Angel Gahona, a Nicaraguan journalist covering a live protest on Facebook was shot in the head and killed. This incident shows that the United Nations worries only about the human rights violations by the security forces. They do not consider the ground realities of the terrorism and violence propagated by the stone pelters, terrorists and other non-state actors. They do not believe that maintaining law and order is more important than respecting human rights. This is the reason why The Pentagon’s mass surveillance program is not bad in its spirit. Just a couple of days ago, the Home minister Rajnath stated that the situation is more than normal. We were given to understand: terrorism either is eradicated or gone on a long vacation. And now this ghastly cold-blooded murder, in the Lal Chowk, proclaiming, take a note we are the masters — be it the true or counterfeit. What are they trying to communicate? What inferences are there to draw? It is not just that a life is extinguished, but it’s an attempt to silence the vox populi; the security cordon and protection are just a smoke screen. Why the successive governments have failed at holding meaningful dialogues with the stakeholders, arriving at workable solutions, producing measurable results! Perhaps, the security people are justified in closing down whole cities to facilitate inspection tours by VVIPs.
On one hand, the rulers rape and kill, on the other hand, the terrorists shoot and kill whomsoever they mark as clay pigeons. Yet another claims from the Home Ministry, “We killed more terrorists” and the counter protests from people. Apparently, no one is abiding by the truth. One thing is proved beyond doubt — trust has vanished; Kashmiriyat is a shattered visage. Now, something that can bring a semblance of peace is — the religious freedom and the freedom of expression, affordable and quality education and job creation for the youth. The earlier the better!
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