The Jammu & Kashmir police department has got some concrete clues on the killing of Shujaat Bukhari and expects to crack the case soon, even by the end of June, senior police officers said on condition of anonymity.
The officers, who are directly involved in investigations, added that Bukhari was gunned down by terrorists on instructions from across the border, most probably for trying to promote peace in the Valley. According to them, this was seen unfavourably by separatists and the Jamait-e-Islami leaders on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). “ We have clear-cut investigation leads to the accused. The killers have been identified,” the officers said, adding that they are now waiting to unravel the digital threads leading to the killers.
The state police has taken note of a June 16 Facebook post in Urdu by Pakistani journalist-activist Ershad Mahmud, who was close to Bukhari, according to the officials, and hand attended the peace conference in Dubai attended by the slain journalist and which seems to have become a contentious issue with separatist groups . Mahmud’s post says that Bukhari’s views were at odds with those of separatists in the Valley and that of the United Jihad Council headed by senior Jamait and Hizbul Mujahideen leader Sayeed Salahudeen. He claims that at Bukhari’s behest he (Mahmud) had pleaded with Salahudeen , after the latter had called the Rising Kashmir Editor and all those who attended Dubai conference “paid agents of India”. A spokesman for proscribed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayebba, also called the participants traitors, who would soon be taught a lesson. According to Mahmud’s post, Bukhari knew that he was in the crosshairs of terrorists and separatists and wanted him (Mahmud), who stays in Rawalkote, to intercede on his behalf.
Investigators are examining the veracity of Mahmud’s post which has pointed fingers at both the separatists and their intelligence agency mentors from across the border. “ Shujaat was capable of both oration and writing and slowly he began to face opposition from some people; a section of separatists were also annoyed with him. They did not want any new ideas on the resolution of the Kashmir issue,” Mahmud posted in Urdu.
The police officers said they are convinced that Bukhari’s killing was also aimed to send a message to other journalists to not voice anything other than Pakistan’s official line on Kashmir. They added that in the past too, anyone with a view different from Pakistan and the separatists in the Valley is usually neutralized or threatened into submission. Separately, they added, the state police is also preparing a new dossier on the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit, based on new hard facts on the terrorist group’s involvement in murder and mayhem in the Valley that have come to light. The new dossier on JeM, which was involved in Pathankot airbase attack, will be sent to Pakistan under the Harare Declaration with the request of examining the group and its Bhawalpur-based leader Masood Azhar. India has been working to get the UN to declare Azhar a global terrorist, a move that would significantly crimp his own activities and also embarrass Pakistan, but the move has been blocked by China.