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India 12 June 2006

Attempt on newspaper reporter’s life in Kashmir

Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attempt on the life of Shujaat Bukhari, the Kashmir correspondent of the national English-language daily The Hindu, on 10 June in Srinagar. He was kidnapped and driven out of the city centre, but when one of his abductors tried to shoot him, the gun jammed.

The attack poses a serious threat to the security of all journalists in Kashmir, the press freedom organisation said.

“Bukhari has already been threatened in the past because of his coverage of the fighting in Kashmir,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the police to carry out an exhaustive investigation to identify both the perpetrators and the instigators of this murder attempt.”

As he left his office at the premises of the Indian Express newspaper in Srinagar on the evening of 10 June, Bukhari was abducted by two men speaking Kashmiri, who forced him into an auto-rickshaw at gunpoint and drove with him several kilometres towards the outskirts of the city.

Finally they stopped and pushed him out of the rickshaw. One of them then tried to shoot him but the gun jammed and Bukhari managed to flee. The police are investigating.

The motive for the attempt on his life is not known. Bukhari told Reporters Without Borders that the instigators and perpetrators of this kind of attack are rarely caught in Kashmir. “It is virtually impossible to know who are our enemies and who are our friends,” he said. Bukhari has taken a few days of leave to recover from the shock. Meanwhile, journalists staged a demonstration in his support yesterday in Srinagar.

Aged 37, Bukhari has worked in Kashmir for more than 10 years. He was kidnapped by separatists in 1995. He has also been the target of attacks by the security forces.

The most recent case of a journalist being murdered in Kashmir was in January 2003, when Parvaz Mohammed Sultan, the owner of the News and Feature Alliance (NAFA), a local news agency, and a contributor to the Urdu-language daily Chattan, was shot by two gunmen in Srinagar. The police did not carry out a serious investigation although everyone questioned said they thought he was killed because of his work as a journalist.

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