An Undelivered Gift

by Saifuddin Soz

Syed Shujaat Bukhari came to meet me, two days before he was killed. When we met it became a kind of celebration because I used to have a library on the top floor but last month I shifted my study downstairs. I had already informed my family members that Shujaat is coming to meet me. We had family relations. I knew his father, an English teacher.

Prof Saifuddin Soz showing the photo-copied book that he was gifting to Shujaat. It arrived a day after he was lowered in his grave.

We had not met for a long time, so that day he stopped by and came to meet me. When he entered my house and saw that I have set up the library downstairs, he greeted me and said that it was good that you have shifted your library downstairs, I may stop by and use your library.

In that meeting, we spent whole time in the library. In Kashmiri section of my library, he found a book Heir Apparent, an autobiography of Karan Singh. He said he doesn’t have the English version of that book and asked me to provide him with a copy of the same. Moments later, when he left, I abruptly asked my driver to get it photocopied. I asked my driver to bind the photocopy nicely.

I even asked my driver Muneer to drop it at the Rising Kashmir office. Because of Eid, the book was not photocopied on time but now after his death, the book is ready to be gifted to Shujaat and he is no more. The moment book reached to me, he was dead.

I had sent my book that Rupa published to Shujaat for review. Shujaat asked me to underline the key reads and I even wrote some small notes so that we can discuss it later. Later, in the evening, before iftaari, one of my workers said that Shujaat Sahab has been shot dead in an attack outside his office in Srinagar. He was shot multiple times as he was leaving his Press Colony office for an Iftar party. My family was devastated.

After the news flashed from every corner, for 10 to 15 minutes, there was a hope that maybe he will survive, when there was some news that he had been hospitalized.  My wife and I couldn’t hold our tears, my wife was continuously praying for his safety. But then, the confirmation of his death reached us and it was painful to even think that he is no more

Whosoever has killed Shujaat, they have killed the humanity.

I asked him so many times to write a book regarding his experience in the host of conferences he would attend. When recently he came back from the Lisbon conference, I asked him to write about it. He said that he will write and I don’t know if he has written anything about it.

Shujaat’s Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Parcham, Sangarmal were important for Kashmir. Whenever he talked about Kashmir in a seminar, there was felt pain in his words when he talked about Kashmir. He always used to argue politely.  He was actively working to extend the use of the Kashmiri language across J&K. He was a public speaker, a regular on TV debates.

Shujaat was only 50 years old when he left us but in this span of time, he was recognized at international level.

One day, Shujaat introduced me to his brother Basharat Bukhari and said he is in Jalandhar should be transferred to Srinagar. I was active in those days. I was in Delhi and in 15 days he was transferred to Srinagar.

I met his father after a long time at Shujaat’s Nimaz e Jinaza. We can’t even imagine how traumatic it will be for his family. Shujaat’s death is unbearable. Where can we find such a person,  he was a friend.

Shujaat’s death is a loss to us. He was an important personality, for the people of Kashmir and for every society. Never I have seen and ever found Shujaat been angry on anyone; he was a calm and polite person.

He was a voice of Kashmir, Shujaat was a prominent public figure and one of several bright peers in the world of journalism and he always voiced to end the 70-year-old dispute. He was deemed as a moderate,  loved peace and dedicated his life to get Kashmir rid of violence. He was with the cause and always used to put forth the suffering and the pain of Kashmiri people through his pen.

(The write up is based on a video chat that Durdana Bhat processed)


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