Eleven days before Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated by three unidentified gunmen in Press Enclave, Srinagar, a blog post titled “Touts who are betraying the Kashmir struggle” had popped up, with his name being targeted. Before he was killed, Bukhari had spoke about his fears regarding the online smear campaign, reported the Hindustan Times.
The JK police have started the process of getting the blog blocked, officials on condition of anonymity told the newspaper. Investigation by security agencies have also started on targeting other journalists, politicians, buisnessmen and activists who are part of the Track-II dialogue. The targets have been labeled as “betrayers of the struggle of Kashmir and for carrying out the dirty work of defaming (the) Kashmir cause.”
“The blog is adding to the atmosphere of fear, especially after the killing of Shujaat Bukhari prevailing in Srinagar. This rubbish blog is nothing but intellectual terrorism. It is making us think twice before what we write or say,” a person named in the blog stated.
“We are investigating the blog (kashmirfight.wordpress.com) and trying to find out who is behind it. The Jammu and Kashmir police have initiated the process of blocking the blog. We are writing to the Union home ministry in this regard,” said a senior Jammu and Kashmir police official.
The blog had started on January 10 with the purpose of updating readers about the ‘Kashmir Struggle’. It has a wide range of inflammatory and hostile posts, with one being titled, “India Infiltration through Media Houses to promote Indian version of Kashmir Struggle” and “Police & Administrative Officers: Serving whom …Curtain Raiser”. The blog targets both police officers and political diplomats.
A day after Bukhari had been assassinated, the blog titled the incident as ‘condemnable’ but that the victim’s actions could not be ‘washed away by his demise’.
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Bukhari had been aware of the actions of the blog, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, an independent journalist and a former Srinagar correspondent of The Hindu, said. “Shujaat told me he knew about the existence of the blog and he had made a complaint about it to police. But nothing has been done to stop the blog even after killing of Shujaat.”
Fayaaz was also targeted by the same blog. He said that it had more fiction than facts and that he had never been part of Track II diplomacy like the blog claimed he was.
“I believe as a reporter my job is to report. It is my personal view and I have nothing against those in my fraternity who have been part of such efforts,” he said.
“Shujaat warned me to be careful as the social media campaign was getting shriller… I told him to come to Delhi after Eid and have a meeting with Union home minister Rajnath Singh to raise concern in this regard. But in the next twenty minutes, Shujaat was killed,” said Iftikhar Gilani, who was also allegedly involved in the Track II diplomacy meet in Dubai as an observer.
A senior security official confirmed that the victim had made a complaint about the blog, but before the killing, it had just been considered as a ‘nuisance’. After the killing occurred, it was being taken ‘much more seriously’.
“The security agencies must keep a watch on such platforms as they add to the atmosphere of fear,” said retired IPS officer Ajit Lal. He also served as the former chief of joint intelligence committee which analyses data from intelligence agencies.
Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated on June 14 a few minutes before Iftar by 3 unidentified gunmen in Press Colony, Srinagar.