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Media watchdog calls on India to probe Kashmiri journalist’s death

Updated June 16, 2018

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Srinagar: People carry the body of Syed Shujaat Bukhari, the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir, during his funeral in Kreeri, north of Srinagar, 
on Friday.—Reuters
Srinagar: People carry the body of Syed Shujaat Bukhari, the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir, during his funeral in Kreeri, north of Srinagar, on Friday.—Reuters

SRINAGAR: The Committee to Protect Journalists has urged Indian authorities to investigate the killing of a prominent journalist in held Kashmir, as politicians, rebel groups and separatist leaders condemned the murder of the leading editor.

Indian authorities must ensure a “thorough and credible” probe of the shooting death of Shujaat Bukhari and bring the killers to justice, the CPJ said.

The media watchdog, however, questioned whether the government would conduct an adequate probe.

“Given the number of unsolved journalist murders and the political turmoil in Kashmir, we are concerned whether the Indian authorities will investigate this murder in a timely and effective manner,” CPJ deputy executive director Robert Mahoney said in a statement.

“Until justice has been served, the killing of Shujaat Bukhari will exacerbate the climate of fear in which journalists work in the state.” Bukhari was killed along with his two police guards by unidentified gunmen on Thursday evening as he left his office in Srinagar.

Bukhari, in his early 50s, was a group editor for three daily newspapers and a weekly, including the English-language daily Rising Kashmir. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter and aged parents. Thousands participated in Bukhari’s burial on Friday.

The killing was condemned by Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and pro-India politicians in Kashmir, who called it “cowardice and a mindless act.”

Police said the assailants came on a motorbike and fired a volley of bullets toward the victims, leaving Bukhari and his guards in a pool of blood. No motive has been determined for the killing, but police accused rebels fighting against Indian rule.

Top rebel leader Syed Salahuddin, who heads the United Jihad Council, an umbrella group of 13 Kashmiri rebel organisations, called for an international investigation.

“The killing of Shujaat Bukhari at a time when the UN Human Rights Commission released a report on the human rights abuses by Indian forces in Kashmir raises many questions,” the newspaper Greater Kashmir quoted Salahuddin as saying in a statement.

Salahuddin said they have a “firm belief that Indian agencies and their agents were behind the murder of Bukhari.”

The CPJ says at least six journalists have been murdered “with complete impunity in direct retaliation for their work in the state since 1992.” Many media groups condemned the killing.

The Editors Guild of India said the “dastardly attack” on Bukhari was a “new low.” The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia in New Delhi demanded an immediate probe and appealed to authorities to find the attackers and punish them.

Dawn Islamabad Bureau adds: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has condemned the murder of Shujaat Bukhari.

A joint press statement issued by PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi said Mr Bukhari had been under threat both from state actors as well as militant organisations for some time.

“We are concerned at the ruthless killing of Shujaat Bukhari which is apparently aimed at silencing saner voices in the India-occupied Kashmir,” the statement said.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2018