June 2018 News

Hurriyat, ISI Behind Shujaat Bukhari Killing?

16 June 2018
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: Slain Kashmir journalist Shujaat Bukhari was likely killed as a result of the anger of anti-talks faction of the Hurriyat and ISI over his advocacy of engagement and refusal to share their strong opposition of the 'Ramzan ceasefire' initiative. The separatist hardliners had wanted Bukhari to accept their rejection of any peace overtures and pressure was mounted through an increasingly vitriolic campaign against the journalist, who edited 'Rising Kashmir', on social media, said well placed central sources. Corroborating the view that the social media attacks were an indicator of the rising anger against him, Jammu & Kashmir police sources said Bukhari was alerted nearly a month before the fatal attack on him and was asked to remain more vigilant in his movements. The state police suspects one of the assassins caught on CCTV is Naveed Jatt, a LeT terrorist, who had escaped from a Srinagar hospital while being taken for a check-up. 'We suspect that Lashker-e-Toiba was instructed by ISI to eliminate him,' an officer said. The police warning was also shared with Bukhari's brother Basharat Bukhari, a minister in the state government. The social media attacks projected Shujaat and a few others as 'pro-India stooges' and linked them to the security agencies. Asked if Bukhari's security detail was reviewed after the 'threatening' posts, to be mindful and take extra precautions.' Bukhari's involvement in Track-II efforts appear to have invoked the ire of Pakistan-based elements. His advocacy for an independent Kashmir at a Track-II event in Dubai and backing for Indian government's peace initiatives in Kashmir had not gone down well with Pakistan army-ISI or terror outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen. 'As per our inputs, he had a disagreement with United Jihad Council chairman and Hizbul boss Syed Salahuddin. The pro-Independence stance, echoed at conferences in Lisbon and Bangkok, had reportedly made him an 'eyesore' for ISI and Pakistan military which saw annexation of Kashmir as its goal.' There is a suspicion that the threatening posts painting him as a 'collaborator' were a build-up to his assassination plot. Sources said Bukhari had actively supported peace initiatives like 'Ramzan ceasefire' as well as dialogue, which led to serious differences between him and representatives from the Pakistani side. The terrorist outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT have been critical of Track II efforts, arguing that the issue was not one of trade or some civil society issues.