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Kashmir Weeps as Shujaat Bukhari Laid to Rest

Sagrika Kissu |
Gloom in Kreeri village as thousands attend last rites, political leadership stunned and people in despair.
Sujaat Bukhari

The overcast sky kept rumbling as people flooded the streets of Kreeri hamlet, in J&K’s Baramulla district to catch a last glimpse of slain senior journalist Shujaat Bhukhari, editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir. He was killed the previous evening by three unidentified bike-borne men in Srinagar. His body was brought to Kreeri, his ancestral village, from Srinagar on Thursday evening. Located some 40 kilometres north-west of Srinagar, security was beefed up in the whole district.

A picturesque village nestled among lush paddy fields and apple orchards, Kreeri was wrapped in brooding gloom. Despite heavy rain – people said it was a sign of Almighty’s sadness - mourners assembled at Bukhari’s home to take part in the funeral procession. The body was put to rest a kilometre away from the house. 

Amid the tears and cries at the funeral procession, one question kept resonating– Who killed Shujaat? Why was he killed?  A woman broke down while speaking, “Rain is an indication that Almighty is sad and angry. He was such a humble, loving person and a good journalist. Why would anyone want to kill him? Who can even think of that?”

As Bhukhari body was lowered in to the grave, mourners rushed to catch a last glimpse. Women started beating chest while wailing and asking God to bring Bhukhari back. He is survived by his wife and two children who are studying in 9th and 10th class.

“The loss is deep. The gathering itself shows how much he was loved.  We will miss him as a journalist and as a friend,” said a senior journalist. 

Notably, despite political differences, top ministers came down to Baramulla to attend the last rites. Opposition leader Omar Abdullah, Altaf Bhukhari, Naem Akhtar, and JKLF leader Yasin Malik also attended the funeral.  All the political parties in Kashmir have condemned the killing of the Bhukhari.

Bukhari, along with two security guards was shot to death on the evening of June 14 as he was heading home in Press colony, Lal chowk from his Rising Kashmiroffice. Police have arrested one suspect identified as Zubair Qadri, who was seen picking up a gun from the spot. However, the militant groups have condemned the attack and have also denied their involvement. The police are investigating the matter and believe that it is the handiwork of militants. 

While Kashmir was crying over the loss of Bhukhari, journalists from other parts of India mourned his killing by calling him a “moderator who never fell for any kind of extremism”. Recalling her meeting with Bhukhari, Pradeepika Saraswati, a journalist with Satyagrah said, “The news came as a shock. Nobody wanted to believe it. I met him in 2016 for the first time but it feels like it was yesterday only. He was a veteran journalist but he treated a novice like me with the kind of humility and affection that you rarely see in the people of this stature. I still can’t believe that I would go back to press colony and wouldn’t be able to see him ever again. It’s a huge, huge loss for the journalist fraternity and the people of Kashmir.” Journalists like Nidhi Razdan, Barkha Dutt, Ravish Kumar took to Twitter to express their shock over the sudden killing.

In Kashmir, the hues of Eid turned black for the mourning people. “Kasheer gav khatam (Kashmir is finished). This is what both the countries wanted,” said an old man surrounded by weeping youngsters.

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