When I saw the news about the killing of Shujaat Bukhari on television, I was shocked. I spoke to him last month exactly on May 18. I was not acquainted with him. The Central government declared a truce (no anti-terror operations) in Jammu & Kashmir, considering it is the month of Ramzan. It was highly criticised not only by various organisations but also by splinter groups and retired army officers. I was curious to know what would be the opinion of the media in Kashmir. I wanted to do a news report on the subject. I was thinking about whom I should discuss the story idea with. So I called up senior journalist Vijay Naik in Delhi and got Shujaat Bukhari’s number from him. I spoke with Shujaat on May 18. It was the first and the last talk I had with him.
We spoke for about four minutes. He was very clear in his thoughts. He welcomed the government’s move. He said, “It increases the hope for peace. The government should not limit itself to a truce only for a ceasefire as the Kashmir issue is a political one. There need to be efforts to solve this issue,” he put forth his opinion assertively. The government, while deciding upon the ceasefire, should have consulted the terrorists through a third party and probably then they too would have accepted the truce. Still, it was a good decision by the government as there are few clashes that take place between military and local residents in which residents die. I welcome the government’s decision as it will halt such clashes too.”
After this four-minute conversation, the next I heard about him was his assassination. Bukhari was known for impetuous journalism. He was always trying to bring about peace. Such a journalist was shot dead. Once the firing stops, then the number of people dying will go down. And he had to face the bullets. What an unfortunate coincidence! Shujaat had written an article after Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Kashmir. He had put forward his thoughts candidly. He had vehemently opposed Modi’s opinion that development is the real answer to the Kashmir problem. “You have declared Rs 80 crore package for Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah too under the name of development had started schools and dispensaries, but it did not change the situation. Kashmir is a political issue and it needs its answer politically,” was his firm opinion.
Now why Shujaat was killed is an unanswered question. He was killed in Press Colony area which was considered to be the most guarded area. Probably, because of the ceasefire, the security there was somewhat relaxed and terrorists took advantage of it. After his killing, the Pakistan government, their media and terrorist organisations condemned it, while India alleged that ISI is behind this killing. Both countries are levelling allegations against each other and the reason behind his killing remains hidden. According to some online news portals, a few months before his killing, the media in Pakistan carried the news saying that Bukhari was helping India. Which means that his activities were being monitored for long and he was killed in the month of Ramzan. The truce he welcomed, but he was killed during that very period. His killing needs to be considered as political. Who killed him will be investigated, but the real motive behind it might not come out ever.