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Shujaat Bukhari murder probe trail leads to Pakistan, blogger under scanner

Officers investigating the case said the senior journalist was gunned down on the instructions of elements across the Pakistani border, probably for trying to promote peace in the Valley.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2018 17:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Shujaat Bukhari murder,LeT terrorist,Lashker-e-Taiba
Mediapersons stage a protest against the killing of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari and a provocative remark by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Singh in Srinagar on Tuesday.(AFP Photo)

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant Naveed Jatt is one of the three people accused by the Jammu and Kashmir police of murdering senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, news agency PTI quoted police officers in Srinagar as saying on Wednesday.

Jatt, an LeT militant of Pakistani origin, had escaped from the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar this February.

“The case has been solved and all the attackers identified,” said a police officer. He, however, did not disclose further details of the case owing to its “sensitive” nature, and asked journalists to wait for an official statement.

Bukhari (50), the editor-in-chief of the Rising Kashmir newspaper, was attacked by three motorcycle-borne gunmen while he was entering his car on June 14. Two of his security guards were also killed in the incident.

A special investigation team headed by Srinagar deputy inspector general (DIG) VK Birdi identified the three men on the basis of closed circuit television (CCTV) camera recordings. Officers investigating the case said Bukhari was gunned down on the instructions of elements across the border, probably for trying to promote peace in the Valley. An anonymous Pakistan-based blogger who had targeted Bukhari and other journalists has also come under the scanner.

Police arrested two people in the days following the shooting, including a person who stole the pistol of a slain special police officer, but eventually ruled out their involvement. The weapon was recovered from his possession.

The photographs of three motorcycle-borne militants who allegedly shot Bukhari and his security guards were also released by the police. However, militant groups – including the LeT – have denied killing the senior journalist, and termed the incident as a government ploy to defame them.

“We would like to call their (Indian Army’s) bluff. If Indian forces are truly convinced that this heinous crime was committed by mujahideen, then they should have no objection to an independent investigation of this murder by a neutral country such as China or Russia,” said LeT chief Mahmood Shah in an email statement.

Journalists have held several protests in Srinagar, calling upon the government to identify and arrest the killers. Even the Joint Resistance Leadership, headed by separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, called for a day-long strike to protest the shooting of Bukhari and other civilians.

A journalist for three decades, Bukhari was known across the country as an important Kashmiri voice. He frequently advocated a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute, and was instrumental in organising conferences involving former diplomats and generals from India and Pakistan.

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 09:02 IST