A day before Eid, veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari was shot dead by unknown assailants in Srinagar. Not long ago, another veteran journalist Gauri Lankesh was also shot dead, thus silencing a prominent voice against extremism. A few months back, two journalists in Bihar were killed after an SUV owned by a local politician hit the motorcycle they were riding. For investigating the sand mafia in Madhya Pradesh and exposing the culprits involved in corruption, Sandeep Sharma had to pay with his life. These are a few instances where journalists were murdered for simply doing their job, there have been many murders in the past which cannot be forgotten.
With such murders taking place in broad day light, it is becoming more and more obvious that being a journalist in this country is a life threatening proposition. Conveying the truth is a basic requirement to be a journalist and those resorting to violence to shut the voices which speak the truth, pose a direct threat to the very spirit of journalism.
Bukhari, even while reporting from a deeply polarised and volatile environment, maintained objectivity and rose as a voice of moderation and an advocate for peace and reconciliation. Even the last tweets he shared on his twitter timeline were about UN’s first report on human rights violation in Kashmir. He was a part of the Track II process with Pakistan and also has been instrumental in organising various conferences on peace in Kashmir Valley.
While there is a section in media that is always condemned for irresponsible reporting, he and his team have always emerged as an example of real and fearless journalism. He had worked as bureau chief at the newspaper daily, The Hindu for nearly fifteen years before starting his Kashmir based daily – Rising Kashmir. One of his last columns in Rising Kashmir concerned about the Ramzan ceasefire. He wrote that the ceasefire has come as a ‘glimmer of hope’ for the people of valley, as their suffering has known no bounds due to the ‘continuous grind of violence’.
Bukhari had already survived two assassination attempts before, including an abduction attempt nearly a decade ago.