by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR: Thursday, June 14, 2018, was a busy day in Srinagar. But that evening eventually erupted Kashmir. A possible Arfa, last day of the Ramzan, when the sun went down and shoppers hurried to finish making the last-minute purchases ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, a sound created deafening silence. With no idea what actually happened, the streets witnessed the chaos. Moments later, the sight of bullet-ridden SUV at the corner revealed the shock; Kashmir’s global face of journalism, Syed Shujaat Bukhari was lying in a pool of blood. He was sprayed with dozens of bullets along with his two bodyguards.

Once done with the office in Srinagar’s press enclave, Shujaat had to attend an Iftaar party. As his car took a turn, the attackers who were waiting outside executed the plan.

Shocked to see Shujaat, tall and well-built lying motionless, his colleagues on the street could not gather the courage to lift him. They had to shout for help. However, his journey to the hospital was a formality. He and his two guards were dead the moment they were repeatedly fired upon by three assailants.

The next day his ancestral village in Kreeri witnessed a sea of mourners. The number reflected his persona. Known for his reach and network, his funeral joined all. From separatists to unionists, officers to subordinates, intellectuals to illiterates, every shade of society was present to pay the homage.

In his life, Shujaat wore many hats. From a ground reporter, he became an insightful editor, meticulous manager, popular publisher, outstanding orator, credible columnist, and a peace propagator. Beyond his professional capabilities, he was a volunteer by heart. A cultural crusader, Shujaat was scintillating on the television screens across the globe.

Today, two years have passed since the day Shujaat was silenced.

The day he was killed, it was a shock. Widely mourned across the geographies, his killing eventually led to the fall of the BJPDP government of erstwhile state headed by Mehbooba Mufti. BJP’s national general secretary and Jammu and Kashmir point man Ram Madhav said it on the record that Shujaat’s killing is one of the reasons for the imposition of governor’s rule.

The journalists hit the streets to know the culprits. From across the countries, there were demands from almost everybody to unveil how it happened. It continued for a long time.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the police said the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) was responsible for his killing. The militant group, however, denied involvement. Later in November 2018, the police and army killed one of the primary suspects, Naveed Jhat, in a shootout.

However, even two years later, though the case for the police seems to be closed, the motives behind the murder are still not clear.

Lying deep down the grave in Kreeri, Shujaat who had just seen fifty springs of his life before elapsing to the other world continues to live, peacefully. The regret is the way he was killed, brutally in the prime of his life.

A unifying force all along with his life, his death too united the people across the ideologies, at least in condemnation. However, the puzzle persists–whose motives did Shujaat’s killing serve?


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