National Human Rights Commission has described Shujaat Bukhari’s killing as a threat to free speech.

 

Senior media persons in Kashmir have requested the government for better security cover even as the police said they have cracked the case of top journalist Shujaat Bukhari’s murder. The police has revealed that the conspiracy to eliminate the Rising Kashmir editor-in-chief was hatched in Pakistan and was executed a by a cell of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

The police also released the photographs of all the four suspects in the murder and said that one of them used a fake passport to cross over to Pakistan. The police findings have only added to the already existing fear psychosis among the Kashmiri journalists.

A senior police officer, who is part of an SIT constituted by the government to probe Shujaat Bukhari’s killing, told this newspaper that they will approach Interpol for the custody of Sajjad Gul, who had ordered the killing of Shujaat.

He said that the police was also using all technical intelligence to understand the reach of LeT in Kashmir, especially the group operated by Sajjad Gul.

“We are looking at all angles of this murder. We are trying to locate all the friends of Sajjad and we have to look if they were having some moles within the Press Enclave of Srinagar where Shujaat Bukhari was killed while coming out of his office,” the officer said. It is in place to mention that the SIT is headed by DIG of police, Central Kashmir Range, V.K. Birdi.

The police said that the three gunmen who killed the scribe were Lashkar operatives, and have been identified as Azad Ahmad Malik from Anantnag district, Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat from South Kashmir and Naveed Jatt, who had escaped from a Srinagar hospital in February this year.

The SIT used technical intelligence to establish that the smear campaign on the social media against Bukhari and other senior journalists was launched by Sajjad Gul from Pakistan

The National Human Rights Commission has meanwhile slapped a notice to the state chief secretary and the state police chief, asking them to ensure the freedom of expression in the Kashmir Valley, pointing out in its letter that Shujaat Bukhari’s killing has caused a “serious threat” to free speech.

The Commission has asked the government if they have taken any special measures to avert such incidents and also instill confidence among the media persons in the Kashmir Valley.

Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) also held several protests in Srinagar, demanding a fair probe in Shujaat Bukhari’s killing and for the safety and security of journalists. The Press Council of India (PCI) has set a three member panel to visit Kashmir and assess how conducive it is for journalists to operate, post the killing of Bukhari.

The PCI has also issued a notice to Chaudhary Lal Singh, the BJP lawmaker who recently threatened Kashmiri journalists either to toe the line of the government or face the fate of Shujaat Bukhari.

Despite journalists of Kashmir protesting for his arrest, the government has not arrested the former state minister.

 

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