In an extremely tragic incident that took place in the Kashmir valley yesterday, senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari was gunned down by terrorists. Shujaat Bukhari was the Chief Editor of Rising Kashmir and he was known for his sympathetic views towards the separatists. Shujaat Bukhari and his personal security officer (PSO) were killed in the attack as Bukhari left his office, while another security guard was seriously injured. The killing of the senior journalist taking place on the eve of Eid has left the city of Srinagar stunned.
The senior journalist had earlier welcomed the Centre’s decision to impose a unilateral ceasefire on security operations during the month of Ramzan. Welcoming the suspension of operations he had said that the ceasefire announcement “came as a glimmer of hope for the common people who have been suffering due to the continuous grind of violence”. Little did he know that he would fall prey to terrorists against whom operations were suspended. It has been confirmed by DGP S.P. Vaid that there was targeted firing on Bukhari, suggesting that this was not a random terror attack but a planned assassination of the journalist. There was heavy firing by the gunmen who came on motorbikes and fled taking the aid of heavy rush in the market ahead of the festival of Eid.
Bukhari was a mainstream journalist and a very popular face within the journalism and political circles. His killing has invited all round condemnation cutting across party lines. Chief minister Mufti stated that she was shocked and saddened by Bhukari’s “sudden demise”. She further added “The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid. I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family”. Home minister Rajnath Singh stated that he was pained by the journalist’s death and he did not have an iota of doubt that terrorists killed Bukhari. He tweeted “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”.
Apart from Rising Kashmir, Bukhari also edited Urdu daily Buland Kashmir, Urdu weekly Kashmir Parcham and Kashmiri vernacular Sangarmaal. Earlier, he was the Jammu and Kashmir bureau chief of The Hindu. Hours before his death, Bukhari had taken up the issue of a United Nations human rights violation in Kashmir. Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari vigorously defended his work on Twitter when some Delhi-based journalists accused him of writing a biased report on Kashmir.
This terror attack has exposed how the unilateral ceasefire on security forces in Kashmir has badly backfired for the government. The idea was to ensure that people of Kashmir live in peace during the holy month of Ramzan. However, it seems that due to suspension of security operations, terrorists are operating with greater ease and impunity. It is already clear that terrorists have stepped up the heat after the imposition of the unilateral ceasefire. Emboldened terrorists have carried out 42 incidents in just three weeks beginning from May 17th, while they had only succeeded in committing 55 incidents from January till May 17th. After the assassination of Bukhari, it is clear that terrorists are operating without any fear. Bukhari was a mainstream journalist who was, in fact, known for his sympathetic views towards the separatist elements. However, it is clear from this dastardly attack that terrorists want only extremely radicalised elements to survive. Even moderate supporters are not being spared.