A day after four Border Security Force (BSF) personnel were killed by militants, veteran journalist and Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari and his PSO were shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside the newspaper's office in Srinagar, police officials said on Thursday.
Bukhari was shot as he was leaving his office in Press Enclave at Lal Chowk for an iftaar party, officials said, adding one of the personal security officers (PSO) guarding him was also killed, while another policeman and a civilian were injured.
The condition of the two injured in the shooting, which comes a day ahead of Eid, is critical, they said. It was not immediately known how many gunmen attacked Bukhari, said the officials.
Bukhari earlier worked with The Hindu newspaper as its Kashmir correspondent. He was instrumental in organising several conferences for peace in the Kashmir Valley. He was also part of the Track II process with Pakistan. He was given police protection since an attack on him in 2000.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti breaks down
“Shocked” by Bukhari's killing, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti broke down in tears as seen in a TV channel. The visuals showed her crying as she recalled her meeting with the renowned journalist a few days ago.
"What can I say. Only a few days ago he had come to meet me," Mufti said, trying to hold back her tears.
Strongly condemning the act, she wrote on Twitter: "Shocked & deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Shujaat Bukhari. The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid. I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family".
Shocked & deeply saddened by the sudden demise of Shujaat Bukhari. The scourge of terror has reared its ugly head on the eve of Eid. I strongly condemn this act of mindless violence & pray for his soul to rest in peace. My deepest condolences to his family.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) June 14, 2018
Terrorism, she said, has hit a new low with Bukhari's killing, "that too on the eve of Eid".
"We must unite against forces seeking to undermine our attempts to restore peace. Justice will be done," Mehbooba said.
Apart from Mufti, several political leaders expressed shock over Bukhari’s killing
Omar Abdullah: Shocked beyond words
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah is in complete shock at the killing of the renowned journalist.
"I'm in complete shock. Hearing the worst...Inna lilahi wa inna illahi rajiuun. Shocked beyond words. May Shujaat find place in Jannat & May his loved ones find strength at this difficult time," Omar tweeted.
"Even in the last tweet he put out he was defending himself, his colleagues & his profession. He died in the line of duty doing what he did best & loved doing - journalism," he said.
"Along with Shujaat, his security chap was also killed and another lies injured in hospital. Prayers and condolences for them and their families on this terrible night," he wrote.
Tarigami: A brutal attempt by hawks to silence the messenger of peace
CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said it was a "brutal" attempt by hawks to silence the messenger of peace. He said it was an attack on freedom of press and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible words.
Rahul Gandhi: He was a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in J-K
Congress President Rahul Gandhi also took to Twitter to express his anguish over the killing of Bukhari in Srinagar and described him as a "brave heart" who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I'm anguished to hear about the killing of Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Rising Kashmir. He was a brave heart who fought fearlessly for justice and peace in Jammu and Kashmir. My condolences to his family. He will be missed," he tweeted.
Mamata Banerjee: With a few hours to go for Eid this is terrible
“Shocked and saddened” by the news, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: Saddened and shocked at the brutal killing of respected editor and senior journalist @bukharishujaat. With a few hours to go for Eid this is terrible".
"No words are enough for this big tragedy," she added.