For the first time in decades, major newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday left editorial sections blank in their editions to protest the murder of journalist Shujaat Bukhari. The Rising Kashmir’s editor, Bukhari and his personal security officers were shot dead by unidentified gunmen on the evening of June 14 as he left his office in Srinagar’s Press Enclave. He is survived by his wife and one son and a daughter.
The newspapers in the state hit the stands today after a two-day holiday on the eve of Eid. Major English publications including Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Observer and Bukhari’s own Rising Kashmir came out with blank editorials to condemn the murder. Urdu newspaper like Daily Tamleel Irshad followed suit.
Rising Kashmir’s Tuesday edition has multiple stories on the murder of its chief editor. The paper also expressed gratitude to its readers for the support and sympathy offered to the publication. “You left all too sudden but you will always be our leading light with your professional conviction and exemplary courage. We won’t be cowed down by the cowards who snatched you from us. We will uphold your principle of telling the truth howsoever unpleasant it may be…Rest in peace!” the paper had said in its tribute to Bukhari on June 15.
The killings, on the eve of Eid, was condemned by both journalists and politicians. While Home Minister Rajnath Singh called the assassination “an act of cowardice,” Congress chief Rahul Gandhi called Bukhari a “brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace.” Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who paid a visit to Bukhari’s family tweeted that the “scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid”. She said she was “shocked & deeply saddened” by Bukhari’s “sudden demise.”
Condemning the murder, The Editors Guild of India called it a “grave attack on press freedom and democratic voices”. The Press Club of India called the murder a “mindless terror attack,” while the Amnesty India called Bukhari a “brave and outspoken voice for justice and equality in Jammu and Kashmir” in a tweet. Journalists in Srinagar also organised a silent march on Monday to express anguish over the killing. Chandigarh Press Club also held a condolence meet to pay tribute to the journalist.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police has also formed a special investigation team to probe the killing. Calling it a “terror attack” IG Kashmir S P Pani released CCTV footages of the three suspects. A fourth person, Zubair Qayoom, has been arrested in connection with the crime.