By Fida Hussain Sodagar
14 June 2018, a day that witnessed the end of a courageous and fearless journalist. The obvious reference is to the day Rising Kashmir Editor-in-Chief Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside the newspaper’s office in Srinagar. The epitome of fearless journalism was silenced. The ink of a pen was replaced by the blood of a valiant editor. Recently Shujaat Bukhari had tweeted, “There is no need, we die everyday. So be contended.” These words reflected the reality of Kashmir.
Shujaat Bukhari had been a bright star throughout his life. He was the Bureau Chief of The Hindu earlier and a recipient of World Press Institute (WPI) USA fellowship and Asian Centre for Journalism Singapore fellowship. He was president of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, the biggest and oldest cultural and literary organization of the Kashmir Valley. He had also been instrumental in organizing several conferences for peace in the Kashmir valley.
In an article on a BBC Website, he had mentioned that threats to life, intimidation, assault, arrest and censorship have been part of the life of a typical local journalist. He survived the assassination attempts multiple times. His newspaper, Rising Kashmir had been subjected to government censorship on multiple occasions as he was always glued to the principles of unbiased and fearless journalism. As per one report on July 8, 1996, government-backed militant group, Ikhwan abducted 19 local journalists in Anantnag district including Shujaat Bukhari. While talking to Reporters Without Borders, Bukhari has summed up the tragedy of being journalist in the conflict torn valley, “It is virtually impossible to know who are our enemies and who are our friends.”
The Pen that always stood for peace stands silenced. The ink that resisted the brutality and oppression stands dried. The Blood of Shujat Bukhari wrote a new story: the story of a star whose shine enlightened the every corner of journalism in Kashmir. The Pen may have been silenced but the mission refuses to die. The fire of truth refuses to extinguish. His words will continue to inspire the younger generation of Journalists. There is always a beautiful start with every end. Rising Kashmir will rise and shine. A candle of fearless journalism will continue to light up. More Shujaat Bukhari’s will continue to blossom.
—The author is P.G in Mass Communication and Journalism and writes on various issues. He can be reached at: email@example.com