Militant accused of Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination among killed in Bijbehara gunfight, says police

Srinagar: Among the six militants killed in a gunfight with armed forces in Sutkipora area of Bijbehara in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district include Azad Malik, who police claim was involved in the assassination of journalist and Rising Kashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar.

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 dead on arrival.

As per a report by Kashmir Reader in which police sources were cited, Azad Malik of Arwani in Bijbehara was killed in the gunfight. Later, it was confirmed that the top Laskar-e-Toiba commander had been one of the killed.

ALSO READ: Kashmir newspaper editorials go blank in protest against Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination

Others included Unas Shafi Bhat, a Hizb recruit son of Muhammad Shafi Bhat, a resident of Takiya Maqsood Shah, Bijbehara; Basit Ahmad Mir, Lashkar recruit, son of Ishtiyaq Ahmad Mir, a resident of Pushwara Anantnag; Atif Nazar, a resident of Waghama Anantnag, a Hizb recruit; Firdaus Ahmad, a resident of Machpona Pulwama and Shahid Ahmad, a resident of Kawani Awantipora.

Earlier in June, the Jammu and Kashmir Police, in a press conference had said that they had identified the names of four perpetrators who were involved in the assassination of Bukhari.

The perpetrators had been identified as Sajjad Gul, Azad Ahmad Malik and Muzamil Ahmed who were Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives with Muzamil being active from 2016 and Naveed Jatt, who is a Pakistani and who fled from prison.

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The Inspector General of Police, SP Pani had said the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan by a Kashmiri named Sajjad Gul. He had also mentioned the online hate campaign that had started through pages like ‘Kadwa Sach’ and twitter handle of ‘Ahmad Khalid’ which were both operating from Pakistan.

“We have tangible evidence to establish these were done from Pakistan. The evidence we have in cooperation of service providers is that they belong to Pakistan,” he had said.

Then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein during his opening statement of the 38th session of the Human Rights Council had said that he was deeply saddened by the assassination of Bukhari.

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While calling him a human rights defender, Hussein had 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 had said that Indian authorities must bring killers of Bukhari to justice.

Two major world bodies of editors and publishers had written to Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi conveying their “grave concern” over Shujaat Bukhari’s assassination and sought investigations in the case.

ALSO READ: Bukhari was killed by militants on orders from Pakistan due to his involvement in peace process, says police

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 had read.

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