Veteran journalist and editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir– a local daily of Jammu and Kashmir – Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead on Thursday evening by unidentified gunmen outside his newspaper office in the Press Colony, Srinagar. The killing of the senior journalist has sent shockwaves across the fraternity, once again, bringing to fore the threat faced by the journalists. Press colony – the hub of media organisations in Kashmir – saw a huge gathering of journalists with frail faces and sullen eyes, who expressed shock over the incident and condemned the killing. For locals, the incident represented the “doom that has descended” upon Kashmir.
Bukhari was shot multiple times as he stepped out of his office. As per a local news report, he was shot multiple times in the head and abdomen. Bukhari was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead. His two Personal Security Officers (PSOs), who were critically injured, have also succumbed to injuries. Bukhari was provided security after an attack on him in the year 2000. Speaking to Newsclick, a correspondent of The Kashmir Monitor, Syed Nashir Ali Gilani said, “I was inside the office when I heard the sound of the bullets. I, along with my colleagues, rushed out to find Shujaat’s car being attacked. Police had stepped out in support. They took the victims to the hospital.”
Another young journalist who wanted to stay anonymous said, “Bukhari sahab was the best journalist and a very humble person. This attack, for me, is a threat to journalism. I can’t still register that he has been brutally killed. We, the journalists from Kashmir, don’t feel safe anymore. It can be us tomorrow.”
Outraged at the tragic incident, journalist Sanam Aijaz said, “Bukhari didn’t deserve this after all the work he has done in Kashmir. I am in a state of shock. He has left a deep void which can’t be filled.”
The Jammu and Kashmir Police Chief SP Vaid told NDTV, “The killers were waiting for Shujaat Bukhari to come out of the building and it appeared the attack be a planned attack. It was not clear, however, who were responsible for the attack.”
Meanwhile, a CCTV grab has been released by the police which shows three attackers on a motorcycle. This attack comes a couple of days before the Eid festival. It should also be noted that the ceasefire call was expected to end with the festival celebration.
Attacks on Journalists
As per the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 47 journalists have been killed in India between 1992 and 2018. In Kashmir itself, 18 journalists excluding Bukhari have been killed due to the ongoing conflict in the Valley. As per to the report released by The Hoot, press freedom in India has worsened in 2018 with killing of journalists in the first four months. The World Press Freedom Index report 2018 ranks India at 138th spot among 180 countries.
The series of death threats to journalists has seen a surge in 2018 with senior and renowned journalists like Ravish Kumar, Rana Aayub and Nidhi Razdan being openly threatened on social media sites.