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Slain Kashmir journalist Shujaat Bukhari laid to rest in ancestral village

Among those who took part in the last rites of journalist Shujaat Bukhari and visited his ancestral home to condole with the family were opposition leader Omar Abdullah and ministers from the Jammu and Kashmir government

india Updated: Jun 15, 2018 23:12 IST
Mir Ehsan
Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Kreeri
Shujaat Bukhari,Journalist Killing Case,Journalist killed in attack
Funeral procession of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was laid to rest in his ancestral village in Kreeri a day after he was shot dead outside his office in Srinagar. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Thousands of mourners braved heavy rain on Friday to attend the funeral of senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari, who was killed the previous evening in a drive-by shooting by suspected terrorists that sparked outrage in the troubled valley and condemnation by political leaders across the party divide.

Amid a pall of gloom, the funeral procession traversed the one-kilometre distance from Bukhari’s ancestral home in Kreeri, 37 kilometers from Srinagar in Baramulla district, to the graveyard where his body was laid to rest as young men chanted religious slogans.

The body of Bukhari, editor-in-chief of Rising Kashmir and a popular commentator, was brought to Kreeri from Srinagar on Thursday night hours after he and two of his security guards were shot to death. Bukhari, who was 48 (can we check. some media putting age at 52), was in his car, having just left his Press Colony office just before Iftar, when he was targeted by three men on a motorcycle . Mourners from the valley assembled in his house through the night.

The body of the senior journalist, who championed peace in the valley torn by almost three decades of separatist violence that India says is fomented by Pakistan, was taken at 11 a.m. to the funeral ground where journalists, politicians, social activists, prominent civilians and local villages were among the thousands in attendance.

Senior ministers in the J&K government Abdul Rehman Veeri, Altaf Bukhari and Naem Akthar, several legislators and leaders of mainstream political parties attended the funeral. National Conference vice president and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah also participated in Bukhari’s final journey.

“It is not a loss only to our family, but to entire Kashmir, especially the journalist fraternity,’’ said Tariq Ahmad, a cousin of Bukhari. “This death has left us devastated. We have no words to express our grief,’’ said another relative, Shabir Ahmad. “Not only for us, he was a ray of hope and light for the entire village and district. He used to help anyone who visited him or sought his assistance.’

Arif Ahmad, a neighbour of the slain journalist, said Bukhari had a special attachment towards his village and often used to visit his ancestral place. “He loved to spend time with his neighbours and childhood friends.’’

In a market of respect to the senior journalist, all shops in the Kreeri market remained closed and a large number of residents headed towards Bukhari’s ancestral house. Being the last Friday of Ramzan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, special prayers were held in the village’s mosques.

J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has described the killing as a “new low for terrorism.” Union home minister Rajnath Singh said there was no doubt that Bukhari had fallen victim to terrorists. Congress party president Rahul Gandhi described Bukhari as a “braveheart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu & Kashmir.” Omar Abdullah said, “He died in the line of duty doing what he did best & loved doing -- journalism.”

Police said four or five people were involved in the killing of Bukhari and have released closed circuit television pictures of some suspects.

Bukhari is survived by his wife, two children and elderly parents.

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 12:20 IST