Darkness of agony wrote The preface of a new dawn Life of yours turns to be The treasure of death Your bleeding departure Signaled hope for new morning Brave you were, Bravery is your identity
Shujjat Bukhari, a prominent journalist who spent fifty years of his life in a big conflict zone advocating for the peace through his pen becomes the victim of firearm. The one who always believed that indigenous movements could not be suppressed through the state might or the militancy can guarantee bringing peace in the high militarized region known as Kashmir, targeted by the same hostile forces.
Shujjat, till his last breath, never gave up on its quest for peace in war-torn state shot dead by the unidentified gunmen a day before Eid at Press Enclave in Srinagar along with his two guards. People belonging to all walks of life in both divided parts of the state and journalist fraternity in Pakistan, India and rest of the world shocked to hear that he is no more. The strong voice for peace, a great advocate for the fundamental rights of Kashmiris silenced forever.
My first email interaction with him was took place on 12th July 2015 when I wrote an obituary on veteran Kashmir leader, former President and Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyume Khan for Rising Kashmir. Shujjat number of times told me that the piece got enormous response from his paper’s readers. He kept encouraging me to write for Rising Kashmir regularly. Although, not much but I had contributed few pieces for RK and we were in regular contact after that. I still remember his last visit to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir back in 2015 when he text me that he is leaving for Pakistan and will visit Muzaffarabad too with some other journalists and wanted to see me here. I never ever thought that a day will come when I will be writing his obituary too.
Bukhari was a fine human being with qualities of head and heart who worked tirelessly for building peace and for projecting the cause of Kashmiris for their freedom and their right to self-determination. He was a journalist par excellence who was highly respected in the world for his professionalism and outstanding journalistic credentials.
Shujjat was one of the very few journalists from Indian Occupied Kashmir who was allowed to visit Pakistan and Azad Kashmir. He had contacts across both sides of the Line of Control.
The region like Kashmir is full of threats for the independent voices especially for the journalists who are facing threats, detention, torture and harassment for several decades. He himself expressed views on it in his 2012’s article for NewsLaundry “Though working conditions for Journalists in Kashmir have seen a change, the professional hazards continue to loom large” These become largest after the martyrdom of Burhan Muzaffar Wani in 2016 which gave a new impetus to Kashmir liberation struggle. In such circumstances, Shujjat sets an unprecedented example of objectivity, bravery and professional commitment and termed the sufferings as part of job. Wish if he could be a little bit self-centered but he was not. Bukhari kept guiding young journalists in their professional assignments and in 2008 provided a great and attractive platform of Rising Kashmir to the English Journalist from both sides of Line of Control to reach out the international audience highlighting core issue such as unresolved Kashmir dispute.
Mohammad Yousaf Najar, a freelance writer based in the Indian held Kashmir shared “My association with Shujaat Bukhari goes even before the Rising Kashmir was launched as an alternative platform for the budding journalists and writers. He would always welcome my opinion pieces with proper professional acknowledgements. His help was just a click away. Shujjat Bukhari’s killing has broken us all to the core of our hearts. A noble soul like him is impossible to rise again.”
Yousaf, when asked that how he will look into the tragedy of Bukhari’s killing, he was of the view “Shujaat Bukhari is the latest victim of the varying contestations related to festering wound called Kashmir conflict. A tall and versatile voice silenced in a dastardly act is not without a proper context in the rising rightwing weaves of recent years wherein the independence of press and media has been dangerously challenged. His gruesome killing is the direct attack on the vibrant press of Kashmir which alone has emerged as the only authentic window of the ground realities to the world.”
Moving ahead, Shujjat become the part of peace talks, looking for a peaceful solution to the decades-old crisis. He believed that everyone should play their role in the peace efforts to find a way forward for longstanding Kashmir dispute. He engaged authorities from the both; India and Pakistan and even Hindu nationalists. Once he told his friend that these same people were baying for his blood but despite that he believed in the positive engagement with Indian society as the only way out.”
AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan while addressing a protest sitt-in in Muzaffarabad on the day of his burial said Shujjat Bukhari had played a significant role in compilation of the recently released UN human rights report on Kashmir. The premier was of the view that his assassination could be the reaction of this report. (Shujjat’s last tweet on this report is in attached pictures)
People from both divided parts of the state termed the killing of Shujjat Bukhari as an act of terror aimed at silencing the sane voices that wish for a peaceful and sustainable solution to the Kashmir conflict. The majority believe that killing of the veteran journalist was pre-planned and targeted. Kashmiri demanding the murderers be brought to justice for their heinous act.
Mubashar Naqvi is a freelance writer based in Muzaffarabad who occasionally contributes for Parliament Times. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Or at his twitter account: @SMubasharNaqvi