Home Other Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination unites the sub-continent in grief

Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination unites the sub-continent in grief

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has expressed his “extreme sadness” at the killing of senior Kashmir journalist and editor-in-chief of ‘Rising Kashmir’, Shujaat Bukhari, last week in Srinagar. While delivering the opening statement at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid said,

“I am tremendously saddened by the assassination last week of Shujaat Bukhari, a courageous human rights defender actively working for peace, through his participation in the Track Two diplomacy seeking to help both India and Pakistan put an end to the violence.”

The Editorial Protest

On June 19, 2018, after a two-day holiday on the evening of Eid ul Fitr, major newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir “for the first time in decades” protested the killing of the journalist by leaving their editorial sections blank. Newspapers which joined this protest were Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Observer, Rising Kashmir which had been edited by Bukhari till his killing, and Urdu newspapers including the Tamleel Irshad.

The office of Bukhari’s newspaper, ‘Rising Kashmir’, was a magnet for literary and cultural activists owing to its reputation of being the finest newspapers based in Kashmir. The whole of the journalistic world, including the UN, Kashmir, Pakistan and India, mourned and expressed their grievances over Bukhari’s death.

Under Zeid’s chairmanship, the OHCHR published its first-ever 49-page report just a day ahead of Bukhari’s killing, pulling up India and Pakistan for gross human rights violations on both sides of Kashmir. The report asked Indian security forces to exercise maximum restraint, repeal AFSA and advocated self-determination rights of Kashmiris among others. The report complains about permission being denied for unfettered access to the UN watchdog on both sides of the line of control in the past two years.

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Pakistani militant 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”. Several Indian political outlets also paid their condolences. News reports said that besides Bukhari, some 18 other journalists had “been killed due to the conflict – either directly targeted or caught in the crossfire – while several more have been injured.

Bukhari left Behind a Legacy

Bukhari, Born in Kreeri, a serene village in Baramulla, was an endeared personality amongst fellow journalists and a strong votary of Indo Pak friendship. He has been called the ‘voice of sanity’ in the valley of Kashmir by many and his numerous efforts influenced scores of followers, but unfortunately also attracted an almost equal number of foes. Some of these foes had been consistently trolling, abusing and threatening to kill the journalist on continuing to voice his pro-peace views – in fact, he had reportedly survived three assassination attempts before the final event last Thursday.

Newspapers which joined this protest were Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Observer, Rising Kashmir which had been edited by Bukhari till his killing, and Urdu newspapers including the Tamleel Irshad.

The difference in the extreme opinions of the crowd, however, is a solid proof of the man’s true and impartial editorial work. Shujaat has been, time and again, praised for his deep understanding of the nuances in the Kashmir situation and standing upright with his voice in the face of the right wing. The office of Bukhari’s newspaper, ‘Rising Kashmir’, was a magnet for literary and cultural activists owing to its reputation of being the finest newspapers based in Kashmir.

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The whole of the journalistic world, including the UN, Kashmir, Pakistan and India, mourned and expressed their grievances over Bukhari’s death. The irony, however, lies in how even on his deathbed, as in his lifetime, Shujaat (Arabic for courage) remained a unifying force for the original subcontinent.

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