Indian Army Chief says peace should be given a chance, stresses on talks
JUN 14, 2018 — In a major blow to freedom of press in occupied Kashmir, unidentified attackers on Thursday gunned down senior journalist and Rising Kashmir Editor-in-chief Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar.
It was not immediately clear as to how many gunmen attacked Bukhari, who earlier worked with The Hindu newspaper as its Kashmir correspondent. Bukhari was instrumental in organizing several conferences for peace in the Kashmir Valley and was known as ‘voice of sanity’ in the occupied Himalyan valley.
He was also part of the Track II diplomacy process with Pakistan.
This was not the first attempt on the life of the veteran Kashmiri journalist. Bukhari was earlier attacked in 2000, following which he was given police protection.
Bukhari was targeted this time by armed assailants in Press Colony near Lal Chowk in Srinagar, following which he was rushed to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. His personal security officer also later died in the attack.
According to officials, Bukhari, 50, was leaving his office for an iftar party when he was shot. While one of the personal security officers guarding him was killed, another policeman and a civilian were injured in the attack.
The condition of the two injured in the shooting is critical.
According to reports, Bukhari’s personal security officer also got critically injured in the attack.
Bukhari’s assassination comes as Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat said peace should be given a chance in occupied Kashmir. Stressing on talks, the army chief said in in an interview with Economic Times published on Tuesday that the recruitment of local Kashmiri youth by militants cannot be controlled.
“Talks must happen. The issue is that a lot of locals are joining militancy. We kill them and more would join. Infiltration can be controlled, but this cycle of recruitment of local youth can go on and on. So…let’s give peace a chance and see,” the Indian general was quoted as saying by the ET.
General Rawat’s comments signify a softer stance than his earlier remarks where he had warned the Kashmiri youth, telling them that “freedom is not possible”.
“Don’t get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek azadi, those who want to secede. [Freedom] is not going to happen, never,” he had said.
The comments come at time when India has found itself unable to control the uprising in India-held Kashmir.
Nearly 90,000 people have been killed and more than 20,000 have gone missing in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.