Hundreds attended the funeral of slain journalist Shujaat Bukhari in pouring rain in Baramulla on Friday, a day after the editor-in-chief of ‘Rising Kashmir’ was killed by unidentified gunmen.
The sea of mourners, some hands holding umbrellas, followed the funeral procession in Kheeri, Bukhari’s hometown.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, state Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar, senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz, many local journalists and members from all sections of the society attended the funeral of the scribe hailed by many as among the best in Jammu & Kashmir.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was also among the mourners in Kheeri. A visibly upset Mufti broke down while speaking to reporters who demanded answers.
Bukhari was killed on Thursday evening along with his two security guards as he boarded his car in the Press Enclave in Srinagar around 7.15 pm to reach home in time for Iftar.
According to reports, officials suspect that the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has a hand in Bukhari’s killing. Security agencies suspect that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists Naved Jat alias Abu Hanzula was involved in the attack on the journalist.
Hanzula is the same terrorist who escaped from police custody from a hospital in Srinagar in February after a gunfight, which left one policeman dead.
Earlier on Friday, Abdullah posted a tweet hailing the courageous team of ‘Rising Kashmir’ for bringing out the newspaper’s Friday morning edition with a black & white photo of Shujaat Bukhari over a black background. “That Shujaat’s colleagues were able to bring out the paper in the face of insurmountable grief is a testament to their professionalism & the most fitting tribute to their late boss,” he wrote.
The US embassy in India, too, condemned the killing of Shujaat Bukhari. In a tweet, the US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster wrote, “The U.S. Mission in India strongly condemns the killing of #ShujaatBukhari, a highly-respected journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of @RisingKashmir, and security officers Hamid Chaudhary and Mumtaz Awan. We offer our sincere condolences to their family, friends, and colleagues.”
The U.S. Mission in India strongly condemns the killing of #ShujaatBukhari, a highly-respected journalist and the Editor-in-Chief of @RisingKashmir, and security officers Hamid Chaudhary and Mumtaz Awan. We offer our sincere condolences to their family, friends, and colleagues.
— Ken Juster (@USAmbIndia) June 15, 2018
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was among the many who expressed condolences at Bukhari’s killing, said that he has spoken to the J&K CM about the incident and assured that his killers will be punished.