It was evening on the fateful day of June 14 2018, when the most horrible and tragic news regarding the attack on veteran journalist, writer, literary expert and a great human being Shujaat Bukhari reached me.
Three years have passed since the founding editor of Rising Kashmir and one of the most prominent faces of media from Kashmir was killed along with his two security guards on the eve of Eid.
For us at Rising Kashmir office, gloom is yet to disappear as memories of our editor and hero are still afresh as yesterday. In our office we mourn our loss every day.
We could hardly see a journalist like him. Even after passing of three years, the room where he used to sit is still closed and we still donâ€™t muster courage to open it.
It was 7:30 pm 14 June 2018 when I received a call from a friend of mine informing me about some attack in press colony. Later it was confirmed that Shujaat has been assassinated. He was my mentor. I couldnâ€™t believe it. I was at home, once I heard about it I fell in Sajdah praying for the well-being of this great ambassador of peace.
At 4 pm on the same day, Shujaat called me and assigned me a health story. I did not know I would not be able to email him the same story after three hours.
We all were left devastated, numb and dumbfounded. There was a pall of gloom everywhere.
As a reporter I have no courage to describe this man of all times who left everybody in a state of shock and grief. This journalist of international repute has left every eye moist irrespective of all social, political, religious, regional lines.
I know Shujaat from my early childhood but I met him for the first time in 2015 when I was perusing my masters in journalism and joined Rising Kashmir as an intern.
I worked for the newspaper as a reporter and now I report as health correspondent and it was during this time that I had a golden chance to learn, interact and share with him.
During our editorial meetings he would always make us laugh and would understand every staffer. We lived like a family and he was a fatherly figure.
He would always respect his staffers and would give them his love and affection.
In our office, I found in him a great human being, a good friend, an inspiration and above all an excellent guide and teacher who at the end of the day turned like to be an affectionate caretaker.
When his last rites were performed on June 15 at his village in Kreeri in Baramulla, I came to know from Shujaatâ€™s colleagues that he was the first person to set up a news agency at Kreeri. Due to that he molded people towards reading. I also learnt there that the late editor used to send newspapers to all relatives, neighbours and villagers too.
The noted journalist was a role model for many aspiring journalists who would frequently meet and seek his suggestions.
His journalistic career spans three decades. He grew from being a cub reporter with Kashmir Times to special correspondent with The Hindu from 1997 to 2012.
Shujaâ€™at wrote for BBC and was representing Germanyâ€™s Radio Dutsche Welle for many years. He launched his own English daily Rising Kashmir in 2008 and devoted all his time for the newspaper for many years.
He also founded an Urdu daily Buland Kashmir. After that he also launched the first ever color offset broadsheet in Kashmiri language, â€œThe Weekly Sangarmaalâ€.
Shujaat was a language activist and had campaigned for long to revive Kashmiri language. He contributed a lot for the largest local literary organization - Adbi Markaz Kamraz (AMK) and kept it alive.
Shujaat was always ready to help the needy. During September 2014 floods he was among the first to jump to the rescue, rehabilitation wagon in Srinagar and saved many families, local and non-local.
Besides being a prolific writer, a great journalist, he was a noble human being with human qualities and values.
Bukhari had emerged as the best guide, teacher, and a caretaker for all of us. He would never discourage when we committed any mistake rather he would always encourage us for improving.
He taught us how to live life with courage and dignity by upholding truth and honesty. Whenever I would send him my stories he would always reply and would always suggest improvement in my copy. He was a reporterâ€™s editor.
Shujaatâ€™s untimely demise has shattered me beyond limits. His silence has left me shell-shocked and traumatised. He was not just a name but an institution whose irreparable loss can never be fulfilled.
His principles of honesty, fairness, truthfulness, service of mankind, objectivity and whatnot will continue to inspire me and all of us who are mourning the demise of the great advocate and epitome of peace.
I remember one of the speeches he delivered at the 8th-anniversary function of daily Rising Kashmir in which he talked about the institution he had created in the form of four publications.
That wisdom pouring speech reverberates and resounds still in my mind. Shujaat was himself an institution and he created an institution for the young, budding and aspiring writers and journalists to create space. That was perhaps why he chose the catchy slogan for Rising Kashmir, create your own space.
Now when this peace builder and philanthropist is not with us, he must be seeing and guiding us from somewhere. We need to uphold his principles.
Let us pledge to take his mission forward that is the tribute that we all pay to this great personality. May his soul rest in eternal peace and may Almighty Allah give him an elevated place in Jannah. (Ameen)
(Hazaroon saal nargis apni benoori or roti hai, badi mushkil se hota hai chaman main deedawar paida)
Mansoor Peer works as Health Correspondent with Rising Kashmir and hails from Kreeri