Political leaders and journalists across India have strongly condemned the dastardly killing of senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was shot dead by unidentified assailants on Thursday. His two PSO’s, who were shot at while the three were boarding car outside their office in Lal Chowk, too succumbed to their injuries, as reported.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh condemned the killing calling it an act of cowardice and attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir.
“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 tweeted.
53-year-old Bukhari, a highly respected scribe in the valley who was currently working as an editor of ‘Rising Kashmir’, worked at several press house and was also the state correspondent for national daily ‘The Hindu’ for several years.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi described Bukhari as a “braveheart” who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu and Kashmir. “He was a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu and Kashmir. My condolences to his family. He will be missed,” he said on Twitter.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said terrorism had hit a new low with Bukhari’s killing and asserted that justice would be done.
“We must unite against forces seeking to undermine our attempts to restore peace. Justice will be done,” she said, adding that the scourge of terror reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore described it as a brutal attack on freedom of press.
“Assassination of Shujaat Bukhari 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 providing a safe and conducive working environment to media persons,” Rathore said.
Condemning the dastardly attack, the Editors Guild of India paid tributes to Bukhari and described him as a voice of moderation and a courageous, big-hearted editor who mentored a large cadre of young journalists from Kashmir.
In a statement, the journalist body called upon the state and central governments to enhance security for all journalists in Jammu and Kashmir and said that an attack on a journalist challenges the very foundation of a free press and vibrant democracy.
Meanwhile, hours after veteran Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari was murdered, Jammu and Kashmir police released two pictures of three bike borne suspects, who were caught on CCTV cameras, showing a bearded man surveying the inside of the journalist’s vehicle.
The pictures showed three attackers with their faces covered riding a motorcycle. The police has also asked the public to help them identify the attackers. The preliminary police investigation indicated it as terror attack.
The militants fired indiscriminately on the vehicle carrying him and fled on a motorcycle along with a weapon of a Personal Security Officer (PSO) Abdul Hamid, who was also killed on the spot.
Bukhari is the fourth journalist to be killed by militants in the nearly three-decade-long violence in Kashmir.
(With agency inputs)