Did the UN report become Kashmiri Journalist Shujaat Bukhari’s nemesis?

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In #Kashmir we have done Journalism with pride and will continue to highlight what happens on ground. These were the final words of Shujaat Bukhari – a prominent journalist from Indian-Kashmir – on twitter, responding to a diatribe before he was assassinated.

The first reaction that crosses your mind is to ask yourself; did the first ever UN report on human rights in Indian Kashmir become the primary driver of Shujaat’s elimination allegedly by the Ikhwans – the pro-government counter-insurgents – in Kashmir. The Ikhwans are known for target-killing all those considered detrimental to the Indian interests in the embattled state.

A spokesperson from the Pakistani foreign office, on twitter, linked Bukhari’s target killing to his voicing of opinion on the UN’s Kashmir report, saying, ‘Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari’s targeted killing within hours of his tweet on the OHCHR report on Jammu & Kashmir – terrible coincidence, raises serious questions – India should investigate and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice’.

Previously, the United Nation released its first-ever human rights report on Kashmir calling for international inquiry into multiple violations. The Indian government rejected the statement saying “India rejects the report. It is fallacious, tendentious and motivated. We question the intent in bringing out such a report. It is a selective compilation of largely unverified information. It is overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative.”

Shujaat was editor-in-chief of English daily Rising Kashmir, Urdu daily Buland Kashmir, and Kashmir daily Sangarmal, which are run by Kashmir Media House (KMH). Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, while writing for the Washington Post, also condemned his killing and wrote:

On the day that he was killed, a video was shared by his critics on social media. In it, he was painted as an Islamist during a conference organized by a prominent think tank in Delhi, simply for refusing to support the publication of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Bukhari (who was not present when the remarks were made) responded calmly to the “diatribe” on Twitter, writing, “In Kashmir we have done journalism with pride and will continue to highlight what happens on the ground.” By the end of the day he was dead […….] His killing reinforces the fact that whether in Kashmir or the rest of India, the journalists who are the most vulnerable today are the ones who have rejected ideological labels and have held on to the importance of nuance and complexity […….] A democracy where journalists are endangered is a democracy in peril.

The situation in Indian-Kashmir has deteriorated over the past two years. An annual Human Rights Review of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society has revealed that as many as 450 persons were killed in the year 2017. Out of the 450, 124 were armed forces, 217 militants, 108 civilians and 1 Ikhwani (renegade). The report also mentions that the civilians killings at gunfight sites in 2017 has been the highest ever with 19 people being shot dead by the forces across the valley during encounters.

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