SRINAGAR: Former minister Lal Singh, who was removed by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for shooting his mouth off, on Friday said in a press conference that Kashmiri journalists seemed to be waiting to be killed just as Shujaat Bukhari was.
He also warned them to never cross a line, suggesting instead that they worry about “how to live”.
Singh said made these insulting remarks at a presser he had called in Jammu to again demand a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-and-murder case.
“They (Kashmir’s journalists) have created wrong atmosphere about the whole case. Now I would like to ask them to draw a line and think about how to live,” the BJP leader said.
He asked, “Are they waiting for a similar incident such as happened with Bukhari?”
Editor of Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated along with his two security guards on June 14 outside his office in Srinagar, a day before Eid. Bukhari succumbed to his injuries and was declared brought dead at hospital. The killing sent shock waves across the country and attracted widespread condemnation.
Lal Singh said today to Kashmiri journalists, “So, mend your ways and draw a line, so that this brotherhood remains intact and there is progress.”
Lal Singh was forest minister in the defunct PDP-BJP government. Singh was asked to resign from the cabinet in April after he participated in a rally in support of the men accused of gang-rape and murder of an 8-year-old tribal girl in Kathua.
Besides participating in the rally, Singh in a video that went viral on social media reminded the Gujjars of Kashmir of the massacre that was carried out against them in Jammu during the 1947 Partition.
Lal Singh’s latest remarks today were widely condemned by the media fraternity and political parties. Some of them termed it an “open threat” to journalists of Kashmir and “attack on freedom of press”.
“He is an elected MLA from Kuthua. He should focus on his people and constituency. The investigation in this matter is still going on and how can Lal Singh be knowing the reason behind the killing (of Bukhari). This is very unfortunate,” said Nasir Geelani, senior Correspondent at Kashmir Monitor, during a discussion with other journalists at Press Enclave.
“It is an insult to the journalists of Kashmir. We should raise voice against this assault on freedom of the press,” Nasir said.
The National Conference spokesperson wrote on his Twitter handle: “National Conference strongly condemns the outrageous remarks and threatening of Kashmiri journalists by BJP Leader and MLA Chaudhry Lal Singh. This merits immediate cognisance by the @JmuKmrPolice. We hope the law isn’t subverted.”
NC leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Dear journalists, your colleagues in Kashmir just got threatened by a @BJP4India MLA. It seems Shujaat’s death is now a tool for goons to use to threaten other journalists.”
The Kashmir Journalists Association (KJA) strongly condemned the statement by the BJP MLA and former minister. The KJA said journalists “don’t need any lessons”.
“KJA feels that Singh’s statement is an open threat to journalists in Kashmir as his role was questionable in the past also when he was removed for supporting the accused in the brutal gang rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua earlier this year,” the KJA statement read.
The KJA has demanded strict action against Singh. Various senior journalists also took to social media and condemned the remarks and demanded action against the MLA.
Meanwhile, the Kashmir Working Journalists Association (KWJA) has taken a strong exception to the statement made by Singh.