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Senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, two PSOs shot dead in Srinagar

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Srinagar, Jun 14: Veteran journalist and ‘Rising Kashmir’ editor Shujaat Bukhari and his two personal security officers (PSOs) were shot dead by unknown attackers outside his newspaper’s office in Srinagar on Thursday evening.

Bukhari, who was in his 50s, was leaving his office in Press Enclave in the city centre Lal Chowk for an iftar party when he was shot, officials said.

While one of the personal security officers (PSO) guarding him was killed on the spot, another PSO and a civilian were injured. The injured PSO also succumbed later in the hospital.

It was not immediately clear how many gunmen attacked Bukhari, who earlier worked with ‘The Hindu’ newspaper as its Kashmir correspondent.

Bukhari was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in the Kashmir Valley. He was also part of the Track II process with Pakistan.

KEG condemns killing as attack on media in Kashmir

Srinagar, Jun 14: Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) while strongly condemning the dastardly attack on senior ‘Rising Kashmir’ Shujat Bukhari, said it is yet another shameful attack on the media in Kashmir that has been surviving with such attacks since 1989.

Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead while he was leaving from his office minutes ahead of Iftar when a group of gunmen, apparently waiting for him to get into his car, fired a volley of bullets on his vehicle. The firing continued for a few minutes and triggered a mass scare.

“Media persons contacted police to seek help. It took police some time to reach the spot and evacuate the injured to the hospital,” KEG said in a statement.

KEG, while strongly condemning the act, has termed the killing as dastardly and a great loss to the media fraternity in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Media in Kashmir has been operating in a testing situation for all these decades of crisis. The intermittent killings and attacks have been adding the crisis in which the media is barely surviving,” KEG said.

It said Shujaat has been a senior journalist who rose from a reporter. He had a long inning in ‘The Hindu’ which he left at the position of senior assistant editor to take-over the ‘Rising Kashmir’. He reported Kashmir turmoil since 1990s and was well respected in the fraternity for his contributions he made to the institution of media.

One of the prominent faces of the media, Shujaat was one of the few journalists who was a keen lover of art and culture and headed the Adbi Markaz Kamraz for many years.

Shujaat has survived a serious heart attack only two years back. He is survived by his wife and two kids, a son and a daughter.

In an emergency meeting, KEG strongly condemned the brutal attack .”It is tragic that every time the killers need a hit in the media, they descent down the press colony and kill. KEG is demanding speedy investigation in the brutal attack so that killers are identified and punished,” the statement said.

It said KEG wants to convey to the players of Kashmir turmoil that killing journalists will not further the cause of any side but will perpetuate the crisis further.

“At the same time, we need to convey that Kashmir media has survived the worst situations and will survive this dastardly murder as well,” KEG statement said.

CM breaks down at Bukhari’s killing

Srinagar, Jun 14: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today broke down while denouncing the “mindless” killing of veteran journalist and ‘Rising Kashmir’ editor Shujaat Bukhari by unidentified gunmen.

TV visuals showed her crying as she recalled her meeting with the renowned journalist a few days ago.

“What can I say. Only a few days ago he had come to meet me,” an emotional Mufti said, struggling to hold back her tears.

“Shocked & deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Shujaat Bukhari. The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid,” Mufti tweeted.

“I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family. Terrorism has hit a new low with Shujaat’s killing. That too, on the eve of Eid. We must unite against forces seeking to undermine our attempts to restore peace. Justice will be done,” she said.

In a condolence message, the Chief Minister described the killing of Bukhari as highly barbaric, deplorable and condemnable.  “His killing today has only established that violence cannot stand the scrutiny of logic and rationality, she said in her statement adding the whole State today stands in unanimity in condemning this inhuman act of savagery.”

Mehbooba Mufti said the role and contribution rendered by Shujaat Bukhari in institutionalisation of the media here has become part of the journalistic history of the state.

“One would always see him raising issues of common cause concerning people. He would often fight for the issues of people through his columns and various discussions but alas this voice of people stands silenced today brutally,” she added in her message.

The Chief Minister also visited the hospital and paid her respects to the departed soul. She also conveyed her heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family particularly his parents, wife and two kids.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also expressed shock at the killing of the journalist who was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in the Kashmir Valley and was also part of the Track II process with Pakistan.

“I’m in complete shock. Hearing the worst…Inna lilahi wa inna illahi rajiuun. Shocked beyond words. May Shujaat find place in Jannat & May his loved ones find strength at this difficult time,” Omar wrote on Twitter.

“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,” he said.

“Along with Shujaat, his security chap was also killed and another lies injured in hospital. Prayers and condolences for them and their families on this terrible night,” he said.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said it was a “brutal” attempt by hawks to silence the messenger of peace. He said it was an attack on freedom of press and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible words.

Condemning the attack, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president GA Mir described the incident as cowardly and shameful act on the part of attackers and urged the government to ascertain the identity of the attackers for severe punishment.

Condemning the killing of Shugat Bukhari, Hurriyat-G chairman Syed Ali Geelani said it is against the moral and human ethics to kill a person without any justification.

Regretting such “mysterious killings’,  the Hurriyat-G leader said “difference of opinion is no way a crime and justification to kill a person.”

Geelani while paying his condolences to the bereaved family, prayed for his eternal peace.

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik while condemning the brutal killing of Bukhari, terming this attack on a “saner Kashmiri voice as barbaric, gruesome and direct assault on freedom of speech and expression.”

Malik said that “Kashmir has today lost a balanced voice at the hands of ruthless assailants and this is actually a moment of mourning for all of us.”

Hurriyat-M chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq while condemning Bukhari’s killing said the act was unpardonable.

“Deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic news of Shujaat Bukhari’s killing! Such inhumanity is unpardonable and condemned in the strongest terms! Proud son of the soil his death is a huge loss,” Mirwaiz tweeted.

The separatist leader said Bukhari was an “erudite intellectual, a fearless journalist and above all a selfless human who was deeply concerned for his people”.

“My heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family. Pray to almighty for his ‘Magfirat’ (forgiveness) and place in Jannat (heaven),” Mirwaiz said.

The wailing relatives of Shujaat Bukhari, senior journalist, who was killed by unknown gunmen outside his office at Press Colony, Lal chowk Srinagar Photo/Javed Khan

Killing evokes widespread condemnations

Srinagar, Jun 14: Cutting across party and ideological lines, the brutal killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari evoked widespread condemnations from far and wide.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh while expressing shock at the journalist’s death, 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,” he said on Twitter.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also expressed grief over the death of the journalist and said Bukhari was fearlessly fighting for peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

“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 (sic),” Gandhi said.

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav also termed the senior journalist’s killing “a cowardly act by the terrorists”.

In a tweet, he said, “Shocked to hear about d attack on d Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar. Reprehensible n condemnable cowardly act of d terrorists (sic).”

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted, “Deeply saddened to learn about the dastardly killing of @RisingKashmir editor #ShujaatBukhari. Such an attempt to suppress the sane voices by terrorists will never succeed.”

Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore called Bukhari’s killing an attack on the freedom of press.

“Assassination of #ShujaatBukhari is a brutal attack on freedom of press. A cowardly and deplorable act of terror. Our fearless media is one of the greatest strength of our democracy and we are committed to provide a safe and conducive working environment to media persons,” he said on Twitter.

Expressing shock and  grief on the gruesome killing of Shujaat Bukhari, in a message Governor N N Vohra has prayed for peace to the departed soul and strength to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss.

The Editors Guild of India tweeted, “The Editors Guild of India unequivocally condemns the assassination of Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari. This is a grave attack on press freedom and democratic voices. We will be issuing a more detailed statement soon.”

“Press Club of India is shocked and saddened by this mindless terror attack that claimed the life of Shujaat Bukhari in the holy month of Ramazan,” the Press Club of India said in a release.

It said that the club has time and again underlined the threat to the lives of journalists working under difficult and challenging circumstances and demanded protection for them.

“Terror attack that took Shujaat Bukhari’s life shows that lives of journalists are not at all safe. Forces inimical to restoring peace in Kashmir Valley have silenced a voice of reason, logic and peace,” it said.

In a joint release, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association and Federation of Press Clubs of India demanded that the “dastardly forces” responsible for the killing should be brought to book by the Jammu and Kashmir government at the earliest.

They said his murder “can only be viewed as yet another attempt to muzzle” the media and the freedom of the press in the Valley.

“We also express our deep condolences to the family members and friends of Mr Bukhari,” they said.

The National Union of Journalists (India) said that security of journalists in the Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of concern and the incident was an attempt to stall fearless coverage of anti-national and anti-people activities.

“NUJ(I) strongly criticises this barbaric act and demands that the state government nabs the culprits at the earliest. We also demand to look into the security of the mediapersons, while covering different events in the state,” it said.

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