On Monday, journalists in Srinagar organised a silent march to protest against the assassination of Shujaat Bukhari. The Rising Kashmir editor had just emerged from his office and got into a car on the evening of June 14 when unknown assailants on a motorcycle shot him and his two security guards. While Bukhari and one guard died instantly, the other officer succumbed later that evening.
The march started from Press Enclave, locally known as Press Colony, where Bukhari was killed. It is also where most Kashmir-based newspapers have their offices. The protestors congregated at the clock tower in Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar before circling back.
The march was attended by a large number of journalists from the local media, including the staff of Rising Kashmir and its sister publications. Correspondents of national news channels, newspapers and magazines also participated. Many of the protestors held up printouts of the Rising Kashmir’s front page from the day after Bukhari’s assassination. Some had taped pieces of paper over their mouths in a symbolic protest against the attempt to silence journalists.
Rashid Maqbool, editor of Rising Kashmir’s sister publication Kashmir Parcham, an Urdu daily, called Bukhari’s killing an attack on journalism and the freedom of speech. “We have taken to the street in this silent protest to send a message: that no matter what happens and even if atrocities become unbearable, we will not let the lamp of the freedom of speech go out,” he said.
Maqbool added that the press in Kashmir has seen, and withstood, several difficulties over the years. “We have survived through these difficulties and the environment of fear before,” he said. “If it comes up again, we will not back out from doing our professional duty. No matter what the difficulties, no power can stop us from doing our duty.”