India: Veteran journalist escapes assassination attempt

New York, June 12, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the attempted murder of senior Indian journalist Shujaat Bukhari, a correspondent in Kashmir for The Hindu newspaper. Bukhari told CPJ his life was spared because his attacker’s gun jammed.

Bukhari was forced at gunpoint by two men into a motor rickshaw on the evening of June 10 in the state capital Srinagar. The men drove around for a while, then one attempted to shoot Bukhari but the weapon did not fire. The journalist escaped. Bukhari said police were searching for the attackers.

Bukhari said he did not know the reason for the attack.

“You know how this job is. You have friends and you have enemies. But these men hardly spoke while they held me and I don’t know why they kidnapped me,” he told CPJ.
Islamic separatists groups in Kashmir, which want independence for the territory from predominantly Hindu India or a merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan, are often accused of attacks on journalists. Sometimes India-backed groups are behind attacks. However, many cases remain unsolved, and the motives unknown.

“The attempted murder of Shujaat Bukhari is an unwelcome reminder of the dangers faced by journalists in Kashmir,” Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director said. “We are glad the police are conducting an active search for the men who attacked our colleague, and we encourage them to continue until they bring his would-be killers to justice.”

Bukhari said he would return to work soon, after helping his family cope with the trauma caused by the incident. He said he had not sought police protection.