Shujaat Bukhari Murder: Paying the Price for Promoting Peace
Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead two days before Eid.
Rising Kashmir Editor Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead two days before Eid.(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Shujaat Bukhari Murder: Paying the Price for Promoting Peace

Kashmiris celebrate two Eids: one is Eid-al-Adha, also known as Bakra Eid, on which an animal is sacrificed in the name of God; and the other one is Eid-al-Fitr, also known as Meethi Eid, when they celebrate the end of Ramzan by giving money to the poor.

But some people clearly thought that there should be ‘sacrifices’ on Eid-al-Fitr too. So they rode a motorcycle and headed straight to the Press Colony to shoot journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two PSOs; and at another place, an Army Commander was shot dead as he was returning home to celebrate Eid with his family.

Only Condemnation, No Lesson Learnt

After years of working for The Hindu as a Kashmir correspondent, Shujaat Bukhari founded the English daily Rising Kashmir. Although widely known as an editor, he contributed immensely to Kashmiri literature as President of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, a local literary and cultural organisation. Bukhari was well-known for his efforts to restore peace in his politically turbulent native land, and was a part of Track II diplomacy with Pakistan.

He was provided X Category security by the police after he survived three attempted assassinations.

Also Read : Shujaat Bukhari – A Formidable Voice for Freedom, Peace & Justice

One wonders why someone would kill a man like Shujaat Bukhari – a man known for his middle-ground approach to the Kashmir crisis. In 2016, after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, he lead the protests against the government authorities for shutting down newspapers.

In his piece for the BBC, Bukhari then wrote:

If a journalist reports an atrocity by the security forces, he risks being dubbed ‘anti-national’. Highlighting any wrongdoing by the militants or separatists could easily mean that he is ‘anti-tehreek’ (anti-movement) or a ‘collaborator’.

Some people have alleged that the assassination was carried out by Pakistan-led terrorists because in a recent article, he had criticised Pakistan, and thus upset them. Bukhari was also an advocate of the Ramzan ceasefire, which ended after the completion of the holy month of Ramzan, which is perhaps why he was shot dead.

A word or two of condemnation by separatist leaders for Bukhari's assassination included the same ‘such inhumanity is unpardonable’ and ‘against moral ethics’ phrases. But their condemnation is no more than a bunch of words put together. There was no 'call for shutdown' after Bukhari's murder. Suppose a person’s father has been killed, and someone condemns the killing only to soon sympathise with the father's killers, then of what use is that condemnation?

Also Read : Shujaat Bukhari – A Formidable Voice for Freedom, Peace & Justice

Price of Standing for Peace

The tying of a shawl weaver to the bonnet of a military jeep as a human-shield should have blotted (and did indeed) the fabric of the country's democracy, but instead Army officials lauded and accoladed the army man, Major Leetul Gogoi, "for his sustained efforts in counterinsurgency operations".

As I am writing these words, police have arrested one suspect in connection with the assassination of Bukhari, who has been identified as Zubair Qadri. He was seen picking up a gun from inside the car soon after Bukhari and his guards were attacked.

Barely a year ago, the killing – correction, crushing to death – of a police officer outside Kashmir's grandest mosque on Islam's holiest night by a violent mob, indicated how cold-blooded human beings can be towards another. The killing of Bukhari teaches us that one who truly stands for peace pays the price of getting 15 bullets in his head and abdomen.

The people who were supposed to be the harbingers of freedom are themselves turning into radical extremists, and like their counterparts, orphaning children and murdering innocents mercilessly.

Kashmir needs freedom from terrorists before demanding freedom from India; or maybe that is the only option.

Also Read : Go to Kashmir to Find the Truth: Shujaat Bukhari’s Words Ring Loud

(Mehdi Khawaja studies English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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