Veteran Journalist Shujaat Bukhari was ‘gunned down by terrorists on instructions from across the border (Pakistan), for trying to promote peace in the valley, Jammu and Kashmir police told Hindustan Times.
The officers, who are directly involved in investigations, said that Bukhari’s involvement in the peace process was seen ‘unfavourably by separatists and the Jamait-e-Islami leaders on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC).’
“ We have clear-cut investigation leads to the accused. The killers have been identified,” the officers claimed adding that they are now waiting to unravel the digital threads leading to the killers.
The state police has taken note of a June 16 Facebook post in Urdu by Pakistani journalist-activist Ershad Mahmud, who was close to Bukhari, according to the officials, and hand attended the peace conference in Dubai attended by the slain journalist and which seems to have become a contentious issue with separatist groups . Mahmud’s post says that Bukhari’s views were at odds with those of separatists in the Valley and that of the United Jihad Council headed by senior Jamait and Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahudin.
He claims that at Bukhari’s behest he (Mahmud) had pleaded with Salahudin , after the latter had called the Rising Kashmir Editor and all those who attended Dubai conference “paid agents of India”. A spokesman for proscribed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba, also called the participants traitors, who would soon be taught a lesson. According to Mahmud’s post, Bukhari knew that he was in the crosshairs of terrorists and separatists and wanted him (Mahmud), who stays in Rawalkote, to intercede on his behalf.
However, both Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Toiba condemned that attack and ‘blamed Indian agencies’ for Bukhari’s murder.
Investigators are examining the veracity of Mahmud’s post which has pointed fingers at both the separatists and their intelligence agency mentors from across the border. “ Shujaat was capable of both oration and writing and slowly he began to face opposition from some people; a section of separatists were also annoyed with him. They did not want any new ideas on the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” Mahmud posted in Urdu.
Bukhari was assassinated on June 14 by unidentified gunmen outside his office in Srinagar, a day before Eid and few minutes before Iftaar (breaking of Fast during Ramzan). Bukhari succumbed to his injuries and was declared brought dead at the hospital.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein during his opening statement of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council on Monday said that he was deeply saddened by the assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
While calling him a human rights defender, Hussein said, “I am tremendously saddened by the assassination last week of Shujaat Bukhari, a courageous human rights defender actively working for peace, including through his participation in the Track Two diplomacy seeking to help both India and Pakistan put an end to the violence.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists while strongly condemned the killing of the editor said that Indian authorities must bring killers of Bukhari to justice.
Recently, two major world bodies of editors and publishers have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveying their “grave concern” over Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination and sought investigations in the case.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum are major media associations. WAN-IFRA represents 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in over 120 countries, with an aim to safeguard the rights of journalists.
“We ask that you take all necessary steps to ensure that local and national authorities carry out a quick and thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators – and masterminds – to justice,” the letter reads.