ISLAMABAD: Amidst lockdown and its consequent restrictions on movement and gathering of people, the second martyrdom anniversary event of prominent Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari held in Islamabad who was mysteriously killed in Srinagar. Shujaat Bukhari’s friends from all across Jammu & Kashmir were present on the occasion in a virtual meeting and people spoke at length on his contribution and legacy in the field of journalism.
Ershad Mahmud who was a lifelong friend of Shujaat Bukhari spoke at length on his deceased friend’s contributions for Kashmir and shared with the audience that despite the fact that the Line of Control had divided Shujaat from many of his friends, he spoke almost on a daily basis and the divide on the ground never reflected in their warm conversations. Ershad further said that Shujaat Bukhari’s main contribution is rejuvenating the lost intellectual spirit in the young and old people of Kashmir through his three newspapers. He shared his reminiscences from the time when Shujaat Bukhari visited Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir for the first time.
Former ambassador Arif Kamal who was a close confidant of Shujaat Bukhari shared his memories of him and said that he feels that the void Shujaat has left is quite hard to fill in. He further said that Shujaat was an honest and tenacious journalist who was involved in almost every initiative taken on Kashmir and after he has left, the scope of creative problem solving in Kashmir has drastically reduced.
Farzana Yaqoob, former Minister of Social Welfare in AJK shared some fond memories of Shujaat Bukhari. She recalled how her deceased a friend had always a smile on his face and nothing had excited her more than his humor and laughter.
Zulfiqar Abbasi who was also a friend of Shujaat and played a key role in the making of Jammu Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shared how Shujaat had been so kind and generous to come to meet them at 3 am in the morning when he went to see him along with some people from the business community.
Speaking on the occasion, Iftikhar Gilani who was a lifelong friend of Shujaat Bukhari said that the best way to pay a tribute to Shujaat Bukhari is to honor his contributions and start a fellowship with his name or an academy that would train young journalists and equip them with the skills needed to work with international media houses. Iftikhar Gilani said that it’s incumbent upon the people of AJK and the Azad Government to realize how drastic the situation is inside the Kashmir Valley. He said that AJK isn’t only a base camp of the Kashmir Movement but a sanctuary for the preservation of the Kashmiri culture, language and civilization.
Raja Kafil Khan who heads the Jammu Kashmir Joint Journalist Forum said that Shujaat Bukhari would’ve played a very important role in fighting against the curbs on journalism and intermittent harassment of the journalists by authorities in the Indian occupied Kashmir. He further said that it has become quite difficult to sustain the cross-LoC connectivity forums especially the journalist’s forums given the situation after 5th August 2019 and also because of the fact that Shujaat Bukhari isn’t amongst us anymore.
Concluding the session, Chairman Kashmir Institute of International Relations, Mr. Altaf Wani said that Shujaat had a multi-dimensional personality with many talents and one of the unfortunate things about the Kashmir conflict is that it consumes the best amongst us and spares the mediocre who lack vision and direction. Wani focused more on the literary contribution of Shujaat Bukhari and said that he was an epitome of glorious intellectual traditions of Kashmir.
Dr Waqas Ali, Qaiser Khan, Dr Shaheen Akhtar, Khawaja Mateen, Dr. Rukhsana Khan, Altaf Hamid Rao, Abid Abbasi, Tahir Aziz and Prof. Adnan Mir also shared their views about Shujaat Bukhari’s contribution and his services for the media and enhance collaboration between divided parts of Jammu and Kashmi