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LeT militant’s boasts helped J&K police identify Shujaat Bukhari killers

The identities of Shujaat Bukhari’s killers were not known for a while since the men covered their faces and were on the run after gunning him down in Srinagar’s Press Colony on June 14.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2018 11:29 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Shujaat Bukhari, 50, the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir newspaper, was attacked by three gunmen on a motorcycle while he was entering his car on the evening of June 14.
Shujaat Bukhari, 50, the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir newspaper, was attacked by three gunmen on a motorcycle while he was entering his car on the evening of June 14.(AP File Photo)

The identities of the three motorcycle-borne militants who shot dead senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar would probably have taken more time to unravel had one of the assailants not shared information about the killing with other members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Jammu and Kashmir police released names of four terrorists at a press conference on Thursday, saying they were suspected of killing the editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir. The police also claimed the plan to kill Bukhari was hatched in Pakistan and executed by the LeT. Apart from Sajjad Gul, a Pakistani-based blogger, the police named Azad Ahmed Malik, Muzaffer Ahmed and Naveed Jutt.

Malik, an LeT militant who has been active in South Kashmir since December 2016, revealed the details of Bukhari’s killing to another Lashkar terrorist, who was subsequently captured during an encounter with security forces last week. Malik’s bragging led to the police cracking the case.

“We were lucky that this militant was taken into custody,” a government official, who wished to stay anonymous, said. He added, “It was in the course of interrogation that this militant told us that Azad Ahmed Malik had revealed his involvement and that of Ahmed and Jutt’s.”

Bukhari’s killers have been on the run since he was gunned down in Srinagar’s Press Colony on the evening of June 14. While the police accessed CCTV footage of the assailants, who came on a motorcycle, their identity was not known as they had masked their faces with scarves and a helmet.

Jammu and Kashmir director general of police SP Vaid confirmed that a Lashkar militant had helped the investigators identify Bukhari’s killers. “He (the arrested militant) revealed the names of the three. It is a sensitive case and the investigation is on. I cannot reveal more details,” Vaid told HT over the phone from Srinagar.

(Clockwise) Sheikh Sajjad Gul, Azad Ahmad Malik, Naveed Jatt and Muzafar Ahmad Bhat - the suspects in senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari’s murder case.

The encounter, after which the Lashkar militant was taken into custody, took place in South Kashmir on June 24. The police are not revealing his identity, but say that he became a militant only around three months back.

Bukhari’s killing sent shockwaves through Kashmir and the police set up a special investigations team to probe the murder.

J&K’s inspector general of police SP Pani released the names and photographs of the four suspects at Thursday’s press conference. While giving details of the ‘hate campaign’ against Bukhari, the police, in a statement, said, that ‘malicious and intimidating’ content was being posted from Pakistan by “individuals belonging to the LeT.”

The police, however, still have to connect Malik, Ahmed and Jutt to those they say were posting the intimidating content from Pakistan. “Several leads led us to the identity of the killers,” a police officer said.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 07:16 IST

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