Death has shadowed journalism with the killing of Shujaat Bukhari. With most of the mass media focussed on show business and entertainment, loss of such journalists like him that too on the grounds of Kashmir is huge. Earlier years of his career were tough as the militants kept a close eye on what was published in newspapers and tried forcing them to accept their vision. But this constant threat did not deter Shujaat from being extremely selective in what he reported.
Each of his reports was well balanced and had an emotional control that gave it a stamp of authority. He launched ‘Rising Kashmir’ on the grounds of his personal virtue. It had become a newspaper of record for researchers and journalists studying Kashmir.
It’s tragic that it is this integrity and balance that got him killed. The militant group did not target him because he was a stooge of Indian agencies. It chose him because he was a Kashmiri Nationalist who never hesitated to speak his mind to both New Delhi and Kashmir and therefore had a credibility to make them both listen.
He was different from others, due to his in-depth understanding of politics and society of both India and Pakistan. Like other Kashmiris, he wanted political independence for Kashmir that did not disrupt its economics, social and educational ties with Jammu and rest of India.
In rare show of unanimity, Indian political leaders have joined hands to grieve for his death. But a better tribute is demanded, and that is giving his life a meaning so that he did not die in vain. The answer stares them in the face, and that is to frustrate the purpose of his assassins.
It was a cold-blooded murder and most certainly planned by Pakistani agencies like ISI, as were the killings of Mirwaiz Maulvi and Abdul Ghani. Its purpose was to trigger Indian media and force Delhi to end cease-fire as soon as the Eid ended and also resume with its campaing of military repression.
The Modi government should look for other alternatives and try to make peace in the valley without using military power much. It should urge to Kashmiri government for releasing the stone pelleters and help them to make up for their loss in study time due to incarceration.
It would help in restarting a dialogue with Hurriyat and other political groups The only way to restart a credible political search for peace is for Delhi to state that its goal is to restore autonomy guaranteed to Kashmir under Article 370. Delhi’s commitment should be to make sure that it remains within the parameters of the constitution before giving consents while creating a dialogue for political parties.
Today we mourn Shujaat’s death and hope we will find peace along the way and will be able to celebrate his life.