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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 27 New Delhi June 23, 2018

PUCL’s Statement nn Shujaat Bukhari’s Assassination

Sunday 24 June 2018

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) is deeply shocked and strongly condemns the dastardly assassination of Shujaat Bukhari, Editor-in-Chief of Rising Kashmir on Thursday, June 14, 2018 evening by armed gunmen just as he was getting into his vehicle after leaving office. Two of his personal security officers also died as a result of the shooting.

A very experienced journalist, Shujaat was a strong voice for peace in Kashmir and he very clearly articulated that peace can come to the Valley only by finding a political solution to the conflict that has engulfed the Valley for several decades. In one of his last major articles on May 25, 2018, on the month-long ceasefire during the holy month of Ramzan Shujaat pointed out that the rhetoric of “development” as a solution to the Kashmir problem is not bound to work as “... talking of development alone goes against the past and present of Jammu and Kashmir, and for the future too it does not hold any promise unless the political nature of the conflict is accepted” and that ”... these sops have not diluted the political content of the resistance on the ground”. A fearless critic of militaristic solutions, he consistently highlighted human rights abuses. He was also against violence from all sides and advocated the need to bring peace through dialogue. He supported the ceasefire as offering a “glimmer of hope to the common people”.

It is not a coincidence that Shujaat’s assassination happened in a few hours of him tweeting, at 2.00 pm on June 14, about the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights issuing its first ever ground report on human rights violations taking place on both sides of Kashmir, the Indian and Pakistan side. His last tweet was a retweet at 3.00 pm of the news that India had rejected the UN report.

We remember with poignancy, our meeting with Shujaat in his office in October, 2016 when we met him as part of a PUCL Fact Finding Team. Despite his busy schedule, he spent considerable time with the team freely sharing his views, insights and perspectives about the Kashmir conflict and urged us, as part of the Indian civil society, to make people in India aware of the current situation and to work to initiate a dialogue amongst all sections, to find a resolution to Kashmir’s problems.

It is clear that Shujaat’s assassination is meant to derail the peace process by silencing a voice of reason and sanity. It is the duty of all democratically minded people all across India not to allow his assassination to go in vain by working unitedly to help find a resolution to the Kashmir conflict. We offer our condolences to the family of Shujaat Bukhari and his colleagues in Rising Kashmir, and friends, as also the families of the two slain PSOs.

Ravi Kiran Jain,

National President, PUCL

Dr V. Suresh,

National General Secretary, PUCL

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