SRINAGAR: Dealing a severe blow to the suspension of security operations in the Valley during the holy month of Ramzan, terrorists on Thursday shot dead Kashmir’s senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two personal security officers in the heart of Srinagar.
The bullet-ridden body of an Army jawan who was abducted earlier in the day was also recovered from a village in Pulwama district.
Bukhari, 49, was the editor of English daily Rising Kashmir and the brother of Basharat Bukhari, a minister in the J&K government. His killing, and that of the Army jawan, Aurangzeb, comes just two days before the Centre’s “unilateral ceasefire” against militants is scheduled to end amid extensive debate on whether it should be extended.
Eyewitnesses said four terrorists wearing helmets and shalwar kameez appeared on two motorcycles outside the office of Rising Kashmir near Lal Chowk at 7.30pm just as Bukhari boarded his vehicle.
Editor part of Pakistan peace process
The two pillion riders fired indiscriminately, killing Bukhari and one of the PSOs on the spot, an eyewitness said. The other PSO died in hospital.
Reports said that a civilian was also injured in the attack. The attack is the first on a journalist in a long time in Kashmir.
Bukhari had been given police protection following an attack on him in 2000. He was instrumental in organising conferences for peace in Kashmir. He was also part of the Track II process with Pakistan. Many questioned the effectiveness of the “unilateral ceasefire” which the Modi government had declared a month ago in view of Ramzan and the consensual demand of the Mehbooba Mufti-led BJP-PDP coalition government and the opposition in Jammu & Kashmir.
Condemnation poured in with Union home minister Rajnath Singh describing Bukhari’s killing as “an act of cowardice”.