Srinagar: Hundreds of mourners in Kashmir today joined the funeral procession of Shujaat Bukhari, a senior journalist shot dead last evening in an attack that has shocked the nation and left journalists numb with grief.
The 52-year-old Editor-in-Chief of “Rising Kashmir” was killed by three terrorists on a bike, seen on CCTV footage carrying weapons in a sack. Mr Bukhari was leaving his office in Srinagar’s Press Enclave when he was hit by multiple bullets fired at close range.
The killers, their faces hidden by a helmet and masks, were waiting to strike, the police said. His two security men were also killed in the attack.
After emptying their magazines, the killers escaped.
A CCTV grab of the killers on a motorcycle released by the Jammu and Kashmir police
Hours later, the state police released the CCTV images of the men believed to be the killers and appealed for people’s help to identify them.
A stream of journalists, politicians and friends this morning visited the home of the veteran journalist, who has a son and a daughter.
Mr Bukhari was given police protection after an attempt on his life 18 years ago. He was said to be on a terrorist hit list.
Known to be a fearless voice in Kashmir, he was described by colleagues, politicians and friends as a strong advocate of peace in the region.
Family and friends mourn the death of Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari in Baramulla
He had been part of informal peace talks on Kashmir with Pakistani representatives held in Dubai last year. He also participated in several conferences on Kashmir.
Mr Bukhari’s final tweet just a few hours before his killing was a link to his website’s reporting of the UN human rights chief slamming both India and Pakistan for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
This morning, his newspaper “Rising Kashmir” came out with an edition carrying the full-page photograph of its editor-in-chief against a black background. The page carried a message: “You left all too sudden but you will always be our leading light with your professional conviction and exemplary courage. We won’t be cowed down by the cowards who snatched you from us. We will uphold your principle of telling the truth howsoever unpleasant it may be…Rest in peace!”
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti arrives at the residence of Rising Kashmir journalist Shujaat Bukhari after he was shot dead in Sringar
Many saw the killing as a warning that journalists are fair game. This is the first attack on a journalist in nearly two decades.
The killing was an “act of cowardice”, said Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who had chaired a security review meeting for Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
“Only a few days ago he had come to meet me,” said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who appeared to fight back tears.
“Terrorism has hit a new low with Shujaat’s killing,” Ms Mufti tweeted. “We must unite against forces seeking to undermine our attempts to restore peace. Justice will be done.”
The killing took place on a day the government held discussions on whether to continue a ceasefire by security forces for Ramzan.
“This is a grave attack on press freedom and democratic voices,” the Editors Guild of India said.