A tribute to Shujaat Bhukhari
Mohd Asif Shah & Ayaz Nabi Malik
“The individual is firm by nation’s coherence, otherwise nothing.
The wave is only in the ocean and outside it is nothing.” Dr Iqbal
Iqbal rightly sums up the idea of coherence between an individual and his society in this verse. The latter significantly determines and decides the former in terms of his attitude, ideology, behaviour etc.
Aristotle has long since termed man as a social animal who cannot live in isolation. Every individual is born with some innate talents and capabilities which can be brought out and explored if and when provided with suitable opportunities and platforms. For us this platform would have been a far cry, had it not been for The Centre for Research and Development’s Kehwa Talk Sessions that initiated the novices in us to be one-on-one with various personalities from different fields and ideologies. These include attending the Talk Shows with the famous Kashmiri novelist and academic Nitasha Kaul, Prof. Dybesh Anand, APDP Chairperson-Parveena Ahanger, writers like Shahnaz Bashir, Mir Khalid, Aijaz-ul-Haque, human rights activist- Khurram Parviaz, Yashwant Sinha-led Concerned Citizens’ Group etc.
Our maiden tryst with Shujaat Bukhari
In one such event of CRDP on 31 December, 2017, the Kehwa Talk Sessions were on the themes “Colonial Practices of Post-colonial Nations” (with Prof. Dybesh Anand) and “Post-colonial Neo-Liberal Nationalism in India” (with Nitasha Kaul), we met Dr. Syed Shujat Bukhari very briefly for the first time on the sidelines. It set us for a longer, fruitful and memorable apprenticeship with him. Soon after this event, the Daily Rising Kashmir organised an interactive book reading session with Nitasha Kaul “Speaking Spheres” on 04 January, 2017. We received a formal invitation e-mail from the then Editor of Rising Kashmir. We felt highly elated and euphoric at this development; and we subsequently attended the same with passion and enthusiasm. Hence began our trysts with the institution in Shujat Bukhari. From then on, we had first-hand experience and interactions with Shujat in practice. We grew more familiar with him, with his soft ideology, intellectualism and his overall personality.
Shujaat as a mentor for our writing adventures
Since we are the students of English Literature, writing was somehow a familiar idea to us, but we never took it so seriously. Occasionally, we would write some random opinion pieces which were published by some local dailies. But this trend was converted and transformed into a serious one when one of our write ups was published by ‘Rising Kashmir’.
This lifted our spirits and instilled a huge sense of confidence in us to work together for taking writing as our passion and a serious business. Then onwards we began to write regularly for different local English dailies like ‘Greater Kashmir’, ‘Kashmir Reader’ and others. It was all possible because of Shujat Sahab’s kind patronage and mentorship that brought out our hidden potential for writing and helped us shape it up.
His guidance and appreciation brought us into the national and international platforms of writing as our writing adventures started gaining space on countercurrents.org and in Muse India among others. He helped us expand the horizons of our writing. Our joy would know no bounds when we would see our opinion pieces published in Rising Kashmir being shared by him on his twitter handle and facebook timeline with captions of compliments and appreciation.
Shujaat’s role in bringing us in academic journalism
The post-5 pm meetings (informal classes) with him at his wood-paneled office at Press Colony, Srinagar paved way for our formal entry as students in the field of journalism and mass communication as we enrolled ourselves for the Diploma course in Journalism & Mass Communication through IGNOU. While studying the stuff for this course, our overall experiences with Shujat and the programmes helped us a lot in understanding the knowledge and importance of impartial, fair and moderate journalism. We began to gain insights into the journalism in theory and practice. Often times we were apprehensive and reserved about our prospects in this field, but he was really an affectionate teacher as he always boosted our morale to fight the challenges in its academic side. We will continue to be his grateful apprentices.
Shujaat as a symbol of Kashmiri language and culture
Since he was a multi-faceted intellectual and an institution unto himself, he helped us polish our ideology and attitude towards our culture and language. During our sojourn with him, we explored and discovered the other important aspects of his life. Apart from being a journalist, we explored him as an expert and a crusader for the honourable restoration of our mother-tongue and culture. The Adbee Markaz Kamrazis an institution in north Kashmir which works tirelessly for the upliftment and promotion of Kashmiri language and our culture. Incidentally Shujat sir was the President of this institution and in that very capacity invited us for the Two-Day 38th Annual Conference held at The Wullar Valley College of Education, Papchan, Bandipore. We were extremely over the moon on being invited to such a conference where a galaxy of noted intellectuals, language experts, critics, poets, writers, bureaucrats, artists, academics, politicians, journalists, students among several others graced the Conference.
While we set out on our maiden journey to Bandipore to attend this grand function, we drove past the world famous Wullar Lake before arriving at our destination. Once we entered the venue premises, we saw our Kashmiri hospitality in living form as the President, AMK (Shujat Bukhari) himself received all the guests with smiles, hugs and gestures of gratitude. On our turn, while entering our names and residence in the Entry Register, the illustrious President announced us as “our guests from Pulwama have arrived.” Then he literally hugged us. This moment is deeply carved in our conscience as an eternal souvenir of Shujat.
In his Presidential Speech at the function, he spoke of various challenges faced by AMK in terms of restoring Kashmiri language in a society that has gradually neglected its culture and language. Despite facing several official/bureaucratic hiccups in this process, AMK under the able patronage of Shujat finally succeeded in making Kashmiri as a compulsory subject in classes- 9th and 10th in Kashmir after a long battle.
Growing more regular with Shujaat
With each passing day, our familiarity with Shujat grew more and stronger and fruitful. We participated regularly in most of the functions organised by media hubs and cultural organisations in which he was actively involved. These events include the book launch of a noted Kashmiri poet- Shahnaz Rasheed’s poetic collection “Door Pahan Dewaran Manz” (Far Away among the Walls) in the Auditorium of J&K Information Department at Polo View, Srinagar.
Meanwhile we kept on with our writing enterprise under his supervision and auspice. We are still in the embryonic stage as writers and we needed him more for years together to mentor and patronise people like us. But, alas, this walking encyclopedia was shockingly and forcibly segregated from us. The “Sun of our hopes” was forcibly set down only when all the Muslims were getting ready to sight the crescent of Shawal to announce the Eid! What a tragedy! This crusader lived and died for his profession. He was a torch-bearer of peace, non-violence, moderate ideology, epitome of Kashmiri language, culture and philanthropism. We take his murder as a personal loss. His gruesome assassination along with his two PSOs is an irreparable loss to the entire society. In him, we did not lose only a journalist or a language expert, but we lost a statesman and an institution of sublime stature who will be never re-born in centuries to come. Here we will weep and mourn with Iqbal:
For a thousand years the narcissus has been lamenting its blindness
With great difficulty the one with true vision is born in the garden.
We hope, expect and demand that his killers be brought to the book. And we must strive harder to take forward his mission with dedication and sincerity. This would be a befitting tribute to this legendary son of the soil.
(The authors are from Pulwama and are working as Subject-Specific Teachers of English in School Education Department. Kashmir and can be reached at:
[email protected] (7006508324)
[email protected] (9797074333)