A voice of reason stilled

Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir and a journalist who was highly respected not only in Kashmir but all over India was riddled with bullets by “unknown assailants” on Thursday evening at Srinagar just as he came out of his office. The bike-borne assailants were waiting for him outside his office without being noticed by the Intelligence people. Bukhari’s was a voice of reason, of sanity, of peace. He worked tirelessly for bringing peace in the Kashmir Valley, for putting an end to the unending cycle of violence, terror and death. His gentle voice of reason was welcomed by the people at large even as it earned him the hatred of all those who do not want peace to prevail in the troubled State for reasons of their own. He was equally critical of both the senseless killings by the Pakistani terrorists as well as the excesses committed by the security forces.
No organization has yet claimed responsibility for Bukhari’s murder and in the complex situation prevailing in Kashmir today; it would be rash to speculate about the identity of the culprits. There is more than one interested party in Kashmir which wants to see that the depredations by the Pakistan-sponsored militants continue and that there is no let up in the operations by security forces, even if it widens the alienation of the people of Kashmir. Bukhari was being escorted out by two Personal Security Officers (PSOs) and both of them were gunned down along with their protectee. This shows that the security provided to a person by the agencies of the State is of no avail if a determined man or a group of men decides to strike.
Quite likely, after Bukhari’s murder, there will be pressure on the Centre to order the security forces to resume their search operations after Ramzan. Pakistani border guards and militants smuggled into the Valley by Pakistan have stepped up their attacks across the LoC. In the latest incident, four BSF personnel including an Assistant Commandant have been killed. Whoever might be the killers of Bukhari, their intention was to ensure that peace does not return to the troubled Valley. The sufferings of the Kashmiri people do not matter to them. They want to keep the Kashmir pot boiling for their nefarious ends. The response of the Indian State should be to foil their efforts at sabotaging the peace process and continue the ceasefire ever after Ramzan and keep exploring all possibilities of restoring and stabilizing peace in the Kashmir Valley.

Saturday, 16 June, 2018