Pen Delhi and PEN South India condemn the murder of well-known and deeply respected journalist Shujaat Bukhari in Srinagar. Bukhari was shot dead by two assailants as he stepped out of his office in the evening to attend an Iftar event in the days leading up to the holy festival of Eid. A recipient of several death threats previously, Bukhari was accompanied by his two guards both of whom lost their lives.

Bukhari’s death is the latest in a spate of killings of journalists and writers that have become a virtual epidemic in India in recent years. It signals yet another attempt to silence the voices of those who defend the freedom of speech. Bukhari’s was also one of the sanest voices in the Kashmir valley and he was a person who constantly argued and acted for peace, organizing and taking part in peace initiatives and Track II discussions. His loss, which tragically occurred just as the United Nations released its first ever report on human rights violations in the valley, will be keenly felt, especially at this moment when his contribution to peace in the valley would have been crucial.

Pen Delhi and PEN South India demand that the Government act swiftly to arrest and punish the perpetrators of this violence and we further demand that the state put in place measures that allow for a healthy and vital free speech and free thought environment.

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