Kashmir mourns Shujaat Bukhari: ‘We’re now a large crowd of numb mourners’

From mainstream political leaders & separatists to journalists, the brutal silencing of “courageous saner voice” has left every conscientious citizen shell-shocked in the trouble-torn state

Photo courtesy: Social media 
Photo courtesy: Social media

Ashutosh Sharma

“The killing of a journalist is tantamount to leaving a society voiceless. Journalists are meant to be the voices of the voiceless, the intimidated and the vulnerable,” read a Kashmir Reader front page editorial, Threat to the independence of journalism, on the killing of journalist Shujaat Bukhari in its Friday edition, wondering “what made the assailants kill a person who would reflect the happening on the ground and would use attributions to substantiate his opinion as and when he had any”.

Remembering Shujaat, the editorial further read that “he believed in participation and facilitation and would always engage with people he thought would disagree with his opinion on any issue.”

The sudden and brutal silencing of a “courageous saner voice” has left almost every conscientious citizen shell-shocked in the trouble-torn state. “At Syed Shujaat Bukhari's funeral today, I realised that life has come to a dead end in Kashmir. We are now nothing but a large crowd of numb mourners going from house to house and graveyard to graveyard, each one of us waiting for our turn to die,” wrote Shah Faesal, celebrated Kashmiri IAS officer on Facebook.

An adventure travel consultant Rauf Tramboo posted on his Facebook page: “No Kashmiri is safe in Kashmir, it seems every name is written on the bullets of India and Pakistan.”

Former Finance minister and senior PDP leader Dr Haseeb Drabu wrote on Twitter: “Devastated and numbed by the news about @bukharishujaat. This is beyond insanity.” In another tweet, he wrote: “Spare me the symbolism. What all do I mourn today? The killing of a human being? A fellow Kashmiri? A dear friend? An accomplished journalist? An obedient son? A loving brother? A caring father? A cultural activist? An articulate voice? Brutality of killing a rozadar @ Iftaar?”

“This is such a really unfortunate incident that has happened in the holy month of Ramzan. Shujaat Bukhari's murder is the murder of democracy,” former chief minister of the state and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was quoted as saying by ANI.

State Congress chief GA Mir described the incident as cowardly and shameful act on part of attackers. “I am pained and shocked to hear about this unfortunate news of killing of Bukhari and I have no words to express my grief,” he was quoted by the Rising Kashmir.

“For Shujaat, establishing his independence was not easy; his brother is a minister and senior leader of the ruling PDP. But it is a tribute to his ability to navigate through the minefield of Kashmir’s murky politics that his tweets were these days most retweeted by National Conference leaders, including Omar Abdullah,” wrote Amitabh Mattoo, advisor to J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in Hindustan Times describing Shujaat as a “a fiercely independent journalist with a courageous voice.”

“At a time when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is waging a battle for peace, Shujaat’s death is a tremendous blow. There are those who had their differences with Shujaat and with Rising Kashmir’s views, as there would be with a fiercely independent journalist. But, without a shred of doubt, today, Kashmir is infinitely poorer without him. The biggest tribute to him is to continue to fight this insane violence and those who perpetuate it,” the article remarked.

“He was targeted for being a rare voice of moderation and reason. Press freedom is distinctly diminishing and to have an opinion today—especially one that does not fit into the dominant political narrative—is to be in the line of danger. Killing journalists will not further the cause of any side but will perpetuate the crisis further,” said CPI (M) leader and MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami in a stamen.

The last tweet of the 52-year-old editor just a few hours before his killing carried the link to the UN human rights report blaming India and Pakistan for human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“We lost our mentor, teacher and guide. Kashmir lost an intellectual,” wrote a Kashmir based journalist, Nasir Khuehami on Facebook, sharing several pictures from the funeral site.

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