COMMENT | A journalist friend, Syed Shujaat Bukhari, who is also the founding editor of Rising Kashmir, was killed on June 14 by unidentified gunmen outside his office in Srinagar.
I first met Shujaat in 2008 at the Asian Center for Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. He was then enrolled in a distance-learning subject, International Reporting, in the Master of Journalism programme, which I taught for a semester.
The subject involved weekly online discussions on the challenges that journalists faced in reporting on politically volatile issues.
Shujaat had survived three assassination attempts for his work. He had written about the constant “battle between pens and guns” in Kashmir in a guest editorial for the Paynesville Press in Minnesota.
“It is difficult to exist with recurrent, harassment, and intimidation,” he said. “But amid the daily grind of violence, life goes on (but) with a difference. It is stressful and sleep is difficult. Who knows about tomorrow?”
Replying to one of Shujaat’s queries on managing the risks of reporting in conflict zones in one of the subject’s weekly online forum in March 2008, I wrote:
“Dear Shujaat: I can only imagine reporting in conflict-ridden countries, and the risks you face daily. I believe journalists are as good as where their conscience leads them, and the risks they are able to take to tell their stories and uphold what’s right, fair and just. In reality, a journalist is also a husband, a wife, a parent, a son, a daughter. With the constant threats and risks of investigative journalism – as in the Philippines, Pakistan, Kashmir – you might ask whether the story is worth risking your life.
“I suppose when journalists have invested time, conviction and emotion into researching the story, bullets and death threats would only strengthen their resolve to push on. This professional disposition can only be acquired from field experience.”...