Thousands attend funeral of Shujaat Bukhari

Thousands attend funeral of Shujaat Bukhari

People carry the body of Syed Shujaat Bukhari, the editor of Rising Kashmir daily newspaper, who was killed by unidentified gunmen outside his office in Srinagar. Reuters photo.

Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Shujaat Bukhari, senior journalist and editor of local English daily Rising Kashmir, at his ancestral hometown of Kreeri in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Friday.

Bukhari was shot dead outside his office in Press Enclave here on Thursday evening along with two person security officers (PSOs) by three gunmen, who were carrying weapons in a sack, on a bike, as seen on security footage.

Former Chief Minister and Opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, ministers, legislators, journalists and members from all sections of the society attended the funeral.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was also among the mourners in Kreeri.

The police have put out a public appeal to help identify or zero in on the killers from the CCTV images. Sources said police will constitute special investigation team (SIT) to probe the killing.

Militant groups including Lashker-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen have condemned the killing and termed it as “handiwork of Indian agencies.”

A local news gathering agency GNS while quoting the statement of LeT chief Mehmood Shah said, “Killing of Shujaat Bukhari is a conspiracy hatched to suppress the voice of indigenous freedom struggle. Indian agencies have enmity towards every individual who is loyal to the freedom movement. The world must pay attention to India's vicious and ill-fated conspiracies.”

Hardline-separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani while terming the killing as against the moral and human ethics said, “Difference of opinion is no way a crime and hence no reason to kill a person.”

Rising Kashmir which Bukhari headed, published an edition of the newspaper on Friday with its front page carrying the full-page photograph of its late editor-in-chief in black background.

The newspaper also carried the message that it would not be cowed in the face of such violence.

51-year-old Bukhari, whose elder brother Basharat is a senior minister in Mehbooba Mufti led government, was given police protection in December 2006 after unidentified gunmen tried to kidnap him.

Bukhari, who started his career from Kashmir Times in early 1990’s before moving to The Hindu as its Kashmir bureau chief, was instrumental in organising conferences for peace in Kashmir.

He was reportedly also part of the Track-II process with Pakistan.