Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday have identified the assailants who killed veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari earlier this month. According to sources, two of the attackers are from South Kashmir and another is a Pakistani national.
"The Pakistani militant involved in the attack is Naveed Jutt, who had earlier escaped from police custody from Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in February this year," said a police source.
Jutt is a Pakistani national and is associated with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit.
While police blamed terrorist outfit for the attack, Lashkar has denied its complicity in the attack terming it an act of “Indian agencies”.
LeT chief Mahmood Shah in a statement issued through his spokesman Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi on June 25 said that it was nothing but a "blatant lie" to say that the outfit's commander Muhammad Naveed Jutt alias Abu Hanzala was among the three assailants who gunned down Shujaat Bukhari.
The police are likely to address a press conference on Wednesday evening to reveal the details about the case.
Shujaat Bukhari, a senior journalist and chief editor of Rising Kashmir, was killed on June 14 by three men outside his office in Srinagar’s press enclave. Two of Bukhari’s Personal Security Officers (PSO) were also killed in the attack.
Soon after the attack, police had released CCTV grabs of the attackers, who were riding a motorcycle. Even during the initial stages of the investigation, Jutt's role in Bukhari’s killings was doing the rounds but was never acknowledged by police officials.
Earlier, police had arrested a youth who had stolen the pistol from one of Bukhari’s guards. The police, however, later said the youth had no role in the attack.
Bukhari, an eminent journalist from Kashmir, was known to be a bold voice from the Valley. He had survived three assassination attempts on previous occasions. He was the brother of Basharat Bukhari, who is a PDP leader and an MLA from the Sangrama constituency in North Kashmir.
In one of his recent columns for Rising Kashmir, Bukhari had written about the Ramzan Ceasefire and how it was a positive step in normalising the situation in Kashmir.
Bukhari, in many of his written works, had called for an end to the cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC). In an article on March 3 this year when the LoC was witnessing rampant cross-border firing, Bukhari had written how the ceasefire violations ended up harming both the countries.
“As things have gone from bad to worse what is missing is a Standard Operating Procedure that could be followed in a ceasefire. A mechanism is also missing and nearly no contact between the two countries is adding to the woes of the people,” Bukhari had written in the article.