MIRPUR (AJK) - Azad Jammu Kashmir Friday widely mourned and condemned the brutal killing of Kashmiri journalist Syed Shujaat Bukhari in occupied Srinagar.

Funeral prayers for the martyred eminent journalist, writer and analyst in absentia was offered at various district headquarters including the capital town of Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bhimbher and other places under the auspices of the main Press Clubs of the concerned districts.

Besides, the journalist fraternity and intellectuals, social and political workers, peace and human rights activists, serving and retired public servants, members of the business fraternity, lawyers and others offered the funeral prayer.

In Mirpur, funeral prayer in absentia was offered at the Kashmir Press Club lawn under the auspices of the Press Club. A large number of people including prominent figures from various sections of the society including former chief justice of AJK Justice (Retired) Muhammad Azam Khan, Station Director Azad Kashmir Radio Mirpur Muhammad Shakeel, presidents of their respective factions of Markazi Anjuman Tajran Mirpur including Ch Mahmood Ahmed and Ch Muhammad Naeem and APHC AJK chapter Mirpur leader Malik Muhammad Aslam also attended the funeral prayers.

While paying rich tributes to Shaheed Shujaat Bukhari, speakers said that the fearless voice of Kashmir has been silenced through cowardly act of terrorism and violence in broad day.

Strongly condemning the cowardly act of terrorism, the speakers continued that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are giving the supreme sacrifices of their lives for the last 71 years for the sake of securing their birth right to self-determination to decide about their destiny under the spirit of the international norms and commitments mostly particularly the UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.

Bukhari, the speakers said, was the strong supporter and advocate of the peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue through meaningful talks. "The departed soul, through his high intellect and pen, bravely voiced against the massive human rights abuses unleashed by the Indian occupational forces against the freedom monger population in the Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir.

Shaheed Bukhari, speakers said, raised the importance of early peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue primarily in line with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu Kashmir state, the major party to the much-delayed issue. For the mission, he used his forceful write ups in his newspaper as well as the international press and also through attending series of international and intra-Kashmir conference on media's role and the Kashmir issue.

"Through his high intellect and pen, the departed journalist was a strong bridge between India and Pakistan to fill the gap between the nuclear arch rivals through the peaceful means of result-oriented talks for the settlement of the Kashmir issue, the major bone of contention between the two countries," speakers observed. They said that Shujaat Bukhari was the strong supporter of bridging the gaps between the regional Jammu and Kashmir state press at both the sides of the line of control (AJK and IOK) to enhance their professional capacity and knowledge through the bilateral exchange of professional know-how and the editorial material/news by the media organization.

His efforts were aimed at keeping the people of the state, at both sides of the LoC, aware and updated of the daily life to each other. They underlined that Shaheed Bukhari strongly supported the emergence of a joint forum of the Jammu Kashmir media men from both the sides of the LoC in the name of Jammu Kashmir Joint Media Forum for ensuring their vibrant collective role for the exchange of mutual cooperation and collaboration to serve the state through the exchange of  bilateral professional know-how  and experiences.

Bukhari was attacked from close range in his car near the Rising Kashmir newspaper office in the Press Enclave area of Residency Road in Srinagar at about 7.30 pm last Thursday. Bukhari was on his way home after an Iftar party at the office. "Three armed motorcyclists attacked from close range while he was in his car near the Rising Kashmir newspaper office in the Press Enclave area of Residency Road. "Three motorcycle-borne terrorists came and fired at Bukhari and his guards," a report reaching here from across the line of control Thursday night said quoting the state police chief SP Vaid as saying.

One of Bukhari's guards was also killed in the attack and another is critically injured, police said. No group has claimed the killings but Jammu and Kashmir the State police told reporters that Shujaat Bukhari's killing was a "terror attack" based on its preliminary investigation. Hours before he died, Bukhari tweeted a Rising Kashmir report headlined: 'First-ever UN human rights report on Kashmir calls for international inquiry into multiple violations'.

Before taking the helm at Rising Kashmir, Bukhari worked as Bureau Chief of the Indian English daily The Hindu, based at Srinagar, the report said.