As a journalist I have always looked upon Shujaat Bukhari as someone in the profession to learn from. Despite being a stalwart and senior most journalist, his down to earth attitude was something which was admired by all.
Shujaat sahib had the charisma to make friends with ease. Not only in journalism he had so many well wishers across the board ranging from politicians, bureaucrats, academics,Â artists, lawyers, intellectuals, to sports personalities, entertainers.
Shujaat sahib was always welcoming. I hardly remember any time when he used to be alone in his office and without a visitor. Discussions with many rounds of salt tea with his friends and colleagues were his daily routine.
His approach towards his fellow journalists was so friendly and kind that even to a new cub in the field he used to give equal respect and appreciation for their work.Â He always used to refer to his employees in Rising Kashmir Newspaper as his colleagues.Â It was something which was so encouraging for freshers like me in the field to get the respect from a senior fellow like him. As a chief editor he always used to make sure to visit the newsroom and meet reporters and ask them about their well-being.
His quality to encourage and advise the young reporters in the profession was priceless. It was under the shadow of Shujaat sahib that many journalists were groomed who later on worked for prestigious national and international publications.
It was Shujaat Sahib who, despite all social taboos, encouraged girls to take up the challenge and work at par with men in the reporting field.
Â I vividly remember that one-day in an editorial meeting Shujaat sahib assigned beats like politics, security to female reporters which till then was usually being covered by males. And not only did the female reporters do well, they later excelled and are currently working in top organisations in India.
Apart from being a top journalist from the valley, Shujaat sahib was also known for his philanthropic work. In 2014 after Kashmir was hit by devastating floods, Shujaat sahib was at forefront in relief work.Â In the course of time, Shujaat sahib not only provided food and medicine to those in need but was also involved in a rescue operation in the initial days of floods.
Apart from his volunteer work, he also made sure that the newspaper was published without break despite the main office being submerged in the water.
In 2015, after he suffered a stroke and was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, I visited him to inquire about his health, though he was not in a position to talk, with his eye movements he asked his family members to make me sit comfortably. That is the kind of person Shujat sahib was.
His appreciation for my reporting during the 2014 floods and giving me the name of his "Jungjo Reporter" is something which I will always cherish for the rest of my life.
Shujat lived as a journalist, and died as one. May his soul rest in peace!