Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], June 14 (ANI): Hours before he was gunned down in cold blood in Srinagar, noted Kashmiri journalist Syed Shujaat Bukhari defended his reporting in a Tweet.
"In #Kashmir we have done Journalism with pride and will continue to highlight what happens on ground," wrote Bukhari.
He was the Editor-in-Chief of Srinagar-based newspaper, Rising Kashmir, and was known as a brave and outspoken voice for justice and equality.
Just minutes before Iftaar- the breaking of fast in the Islamic holy month of Ramzan- terrorists sprayed bullets on Bukhari, outside his Press Colony residence in Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital.
In the past, he survived three assassination attempts and had been under police protection since 2000.
But on Thursday, when people in the Kashmir Valley looked forward to the sighting of Eid's crescent, terrorists shot Bukhari dead, leaving him in a pool of blood, his body ridden with bullets.
Rajesh Mahapatra, Editor-At-Large with Hindustan Times said, "Heartbreaking the loss of Shujaat Bukhari, an incredibly brave editor & an invaluable voice of middle-ground moderation. This is a loss for all Kashmiri's, India and the entire journalistic community."
He had several feathers in his cap.
He worked with The Hindu newspaper and was its Bureau Chief in Srinagar for several years.
He was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
He was also the president of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, the biggest and oldest cultural and literary organisation of the Valley.
Veteran journalist, Shekhar Gupta, defined Bukhari as an "influential voice of reason" in Kashmir.
Heartbreaking the loss of Shujaat Bukhari, an incredibly brave editor & an invaluable voice of middle-ground moderation. This is a loss for all Kashmiri's, India and the entire journalistic community— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) June 14, 2018
Preliminary investigation by the state police indicates that Bukhari's brutal killing was a terror attack.
It has come at a time when the government recently hinted that it may not extend the cessation of anti-terror operations, which it had announced on May 16, in the Valley.
"Ramzan is the holy month for Muslims so the Indian government had decided to announce suspension of operations during this period as a goodwill gesture. We also wanted that the same be reciprocated but there was no change in the actions of separatists and terrorists," Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav told ANI on Wednesday.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed the killing of the editor as an "act of cowardice."
Shortly after the incident, the Home Minister in his Tweet said, ""The killing of @RisingKashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari is an act of cowardice. It is an attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir. He was a courageous and fearless journalist."
The killing of @RisingKashmir editor, Shujaat Bukhari is an act of cowardice. It is an attempt to silence the saner voices of Kashmir. He was a courageous and fearless journalist. Extremely shocked & pained at his death. My thoughts and prayers are with his bereaved family.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 14, 2018
The incident has also brought to light how journalists in the Kashmir Valley are often the soft target of militants.
Speaking to ANI, Iftikhar Gilani, a senior journalist and a friend of Bukhari, said, "I had a conversation with him just 20 minutes before the incident. It's really shocking. This is the situation of journalists in Kashmir."
Expressing grief over the killing, Press Club of India president Gautam Lahiri said, "Jammu and Kashmir government should investigate the attack. All anti-India forces are attacking journalist. Journalist community should come together to condemn the incident." (ANI)