A week on, mystery shrouds Shujaat Bukhari’s killing

A week on, mystery shrouds Shujaat Bukhari’s killing

Journalists take part in a silent protest to condemn the killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bhukari, in Kolkata. PTI

The mystery surrounding veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari's murder has refused to die down even a week after he was gunned down in Kashmir's media hub. 

On the fourth day of his killing when the traditional condolence meeting was held, people woke up to blank editorials in all the leading newspapers of the Valley, with publications taking a uniform stand to protest Bukhari's brutal killing.

It was for the first time in decades that both English and Urdu dailies refrained from publishing editorials, leaving blank spaces otherwise occupied by such pieces.

Ever since news of Bukhari's killing broke out, social media has been flooded with messages in his memory and it was only after news about the fall of PDP-BJP government came, that the attention of the netizens in the Valley diverted a bit.

But while Bukhari’s relatives, friends and colleagues in the media are mourning his death, no one has dared to directly name the killers.

And as police have failed to make any breakthrough in the case, two theories are making rounds in the gossiping corridors of Srinagar.

One is that Bukhari was killed by "Indian agencies for being a staunch supporter of Kashmir's freedom movement", while the other is that he was killed by "Pakistani agencies for promoting peace at the behest of New Delhi". 

Mohammad Sayeed Malik, a veteran Kashmiri journalist, said that Bukhari's case falls into that rare category where the precise determination of the killer, as well as the motive, can only be guessed vaguely and not determined with certainty.

He compared Bukhari's killing with that of the mysterious killing of Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq (May 21, 1990) and Abdul Ghani Lone (May 21, 2002).

"Both are generally known to have been shot by militants and yet, strangely, both lie buried in the Shaheed Mazar (martyr's graveyard) which is exclusively reserved for those fighting for 'liberation' of Kashmir (militants)," Malik added.

A close friend of Bukhari, who wished to remain anonymous, said as the government and militant groups are blaming each other for the killing, after some time this case file will meet the fate of similar such files.

"Militants are seeing the hand of intelligence agencies and the government blames the militants. And in between these allegations and counter-allegations, one more precious life has been lost. What is more, in the absence of the whereabouts of the killers, it is rumour and innuendo that fill up the space," he told DH.

If unofficial reports are to be believed, Bukhari had met outgoing chief minister Mehbooba Mufti just a few days before his killing and requested her to increase his security cover.

There are also reports that Inspector General Police (IGP) Kashmir Swaym Prakash Pani had asked Bukhari to remain cautious as there was a threat to his life.

But the million dollar question that remains is why the government did not act if they knew in advance that Bukhari was on the hit list of the militants. 

Added to it are the questions which local journalists are posing before the police.

Freelance journalist Majid Hyderi, who was also a close friend of Bukhari said that on the day the latter was killed, the Jammu and Kashmir Police was observing an undeclared holiday. 

DGP SP Vaid said that the case would be solved.