A courageous son of the soil

He was a strong believer in peace. In him we have lost a great soul

Ashok Bhan
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 19 2018 12:09AM | Updated Date: Jun 19 2018 12:09AM
A courageous son of the soil

Shujat Bukhari, a veteran journalist, a peacenik and a civil liberty champion has been murdered by brutal terrorists. His death has shocked people at large. Congress President, Home Minister, leaders from the Left and the civil society have vehemently condemned the murder as coward and dastardly.

Shujat used to say and advocate that violence is to be fought by hot pursuit but such policy requires to be mixed with engagement and dialogue with common Kashmiris. People alone are key to marginalise and isolate terror elements. The conflict in Kashmir is non-linear and there are multiple forces at work simultaneously.

Shujat passionately believed and always said there is a dire need for reconstruction of society, tracing the roots of enlightened values of Kashmiriyat and upholding religious tolerance in Kashmir. Don’t appease but reconcile; don’t suppress anger but convert it into energy to involve in reconstruction of state; create space for debate, dissent, societal transformation and mutual tolerance.

Shujat was an accomplished journalist with exceptional clarity on varied issues. The editorial policy and narrative of his daily news paper Rising Kashmir was always pluralist, moderate and positive. He was facing perpetual economic crunch for running the daily news paper and he hardly received his legitimate due by way of any advertisement benefits by the Governments unlike their favourite ones. He was a flag bearer of peace and dialogue for Kashmir resolution. He was an active participant in back channel diplomatic efforts of Ottawa dialogue group and Pugwash group for India-Pakistan friendship and peace in South Asia & Kashmir. He had best of his connectivity with Kashmiri diaspora active abroad for resolution of Kashmir imbroglio.

Shujat Bukhari contributed a great deal in the cultural and literary field as the President of Adbee Markaz Kamraz, a cultural and literary organisation in Kashmir. He was instrumental in organising several Kashmir peace conferences and media conclaves.

As a journalist of Kashmir, working for Hindu I knew Shujat Bukhari for more than two and a half decades. He once interviewed me on my path breaking meetings with united Hurriyat leadership in Kashmir long back as Convenor of Kashmir Committee.— and he widely reported in Hindu there after we became good friends. I believe he has been targeted for being a rare voice of moderation and reason in a public discourse plagued by ideological extremes. He used to tell everybody boldly that things are much worse in Kashmir than 1990. An entire generation is growing up hating India.” Equally, he did not pander blindly to the Azaadi slogan. He condemned militant violence and concerted bids to kill locals and policemen by militant groups. He always favoured dignified and secured return of native Kashmiri Pandits back to Valley. He publicly welcomed the cease-fire and remained an optimist about the power of dialogue and reconciliation.

Shujat had created a niche for his daily and he groomed young people holding on the keypads, and together the team made Rising Kashmir the most popular and content rich widely circulated news paper. He travelled a lot in quest for peace. He was hopping from Srinagar, to Jammu, New Delhi, Islamabad, UAE, London and Washington. He created diverse range of contacts, in Universities, think-tanks, newspapers editors and Kashmiri diaspora. Through these contacts and engagements Shujaat contributed to enhancing the understanding of varied perspectives on conflict resolution and enriched himself intellectually to use his caliber in the peace process in South Asia.

I am personally grateful to Shujat for the fact he was instrumental in awakening the columnist in me. I have been regularly also contributing my pieces to his daily news paper and on the day of his murder, a book review piece written by me was printed in Rising Kashmir. Thank you Shujat. Frankly I could not sleep the night after Shujat’s brutal murder. He was hardly 50. He did not deserve to die. He has survived several attempts on his life in the past. He was a decent and compassionate gentleman. Shujat will keep talking for years ahead and he left a great message of struggle for peace and decent life and liberty to current and future generations of Kashmir. 

RIP Shujat. 

 

(Ashok Bhan is Senior Advocate  Supreme Court Of India and Chairman Kashmir Policy & Strategy Group)

 

 

 

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