CPIML(New Democracy) condemns the contemptible gunning down of Shujaat Bukhari, Editor of Rising Kashmir and its three sister publications on June 14, 2018. Eloquent spokesperson of and firm believer in the right of self determination of people of J&K, Shujaat Bukhari ruthlessly exposed the instances of state terror against them. On the same day as he was brutally killed, Bukhari had been using social media to propagate the UN Human Rights Council Chief’s Report on the situation in Kashmir and had commented that it was the first time that the UN had undertaken such an exercise. His gunning down by “unknown” operatives in a high security zone in the capital city of Srinagar- the Press Enclave area- which is teeming with operatives of the armed forces and barrier after barrier to free movement, is astonishing. Even the ex CM of J&K, Omar Abdullah, said on NDTV that it is surprising that the killers were able to conduct a recee, gun down the Editor and his two guards and get away from the area unchallenged.
Bukhari was not just a thoroughly honest journalist; he was also a speaker for the rights of the Kashmiri people. He was part of the movement which reintroduced the teaching of Kashmiri language in the Valley’s schools. Bukhari supported dialogue involving the Govts of both India and Pakistan along with the people of the state. However, while commenting on the sudden announcement of ceasefire this Ramzan, he had emphasized that while Pakistan was an important stakeholder in the process, the need was for Govt. of India to move beyond this gesture and start talking about the political issue. He was also clear that the ongoing cycle of violence in Kashmir Valley inevitably started with operations of the armed forces that triggered the anger of the people.
The killing of Bukhari has to be seen in the context of the rising state violence against the people of Kashmir who are fighting for the right to self determination. The BJP-PDP Govt. of the state has gone ahead with ruthless killings of the youth of Kashmir and Army intervention in the state is at an all time high. A record number of youth of South Kashmir have joined the militants since the killing of Burhan Wani and the operations of security forces have taken a heavy toll of civilian lives. The killing by “unknown” unscathed gunmen is too similar in script to the gunning down of Gauri Lankesh, Prof. Kulbargi and others who exposed the RSS backed Central Govt. The Central Govt. quickly raised the bogey of “different” types of forces in Kashmir and of several armed non state players and is invoking the inevitable hand of Pakistan which seems to be able to do everything in this country. There are a record number of Ministers of the Central and state Govt. who are talking about unknown ‘’militants’’ rather than “gunmen”. In the background is the distorted propaganda which pours out about the Kashmiri people from the Central govt and the Army and also the reality of multiple armed elements in the state- all this can distract attention from the harsh fact that the biggest armed section in Kashmir in general and Srinagar in particular is the armed forces of the state.
The CPIML(New Democracy) calls on all democratic sections to condemn the killing of Editor Bukhari. Only a truly independent Enquiry- which actually in the context of Kashmir, means a People’s Enquiry- can identify his killers. A powerful movement for respect for the democratic rights of the people of J&K should be built. A movement in favour the right to self determination of the people of Kashmir should be developed.
June 16, 2019