National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that the network of editors and media practitioners, namely, SAMDEN has urged the NHRC to seeks swift probe into Shujaat Bukhari’s killing along with his two personal security officers in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir on 14.06.2018. Reportedly, SAMDEN has also demanded swift action to be taken by the Central and the State Government for the necessary steps ensuring safety and security of all the journalists across the country.

As per news report, the deceased journalist had been under police protection since the year 2000. He was reportedly facing threats, being a rare voice of moderation and an advocate for peace and justice. Many other NGOs and human rights defenders have also raised their voice against the threats, attacks and murders carried out against the media persons.

The Commission has observed that in view of special provisions laid down under Section 1(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 in connection with the State of Jammu & Kashmir, it generally does not intervene into the matters relatable to entries enumerated in the List II (State List) mentioned under Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. In such cases, it is for the State Human Rights Commission to take cognizance of the complaints regarding alleged violation of human rights in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

However, it further observed that it is learnt that the State Human Rights Commission is closed for summer vacations till 30th June, 2018 and till date, cognizance of this case has not been taken by them. The way, Mr Shujaat Bukhari had been killed by the miscreants indicates that the media persons, even those who have been provided police protection by the State Government, are not safe in the valley. This is a case of violation of right to life of the victim and the incident is causing serious threat to free speech and freedom of press in the State.

Looking into the gravity of the matter, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police of the State of Jammu & Kashmir calling for detailed report in the matter. The State Government is also expected to provide details of the attacks made on the media persons during last two years along with number of persons died/ injured and status of relief/ rehabilitation provided to the victims and their families. The Commission would also like to know as to what special measures have been taken by the State Government to stop such incidents in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The response is expected within four weeks.

Besides this media report in the matter, a complaint from the Front Line Defenders, an NGO has been received which has been registered by the Commission. The formal letter from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is yet to be received by the Commission.

National Human Rights Commission

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