BJP’s Choudhary Lal Singh on Friday warned journalists to ‘mend their ways’ over their reporting on the Kathua rape and murder case, with an apparent reference to the assassination of Kashmir journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Choudhary Lal Singh on Friday warned journalists to ‘mend their ways’ over their reporting on the Kathua rape and murder case, with an apparent reference to the assassination of journalist Shujaat Bukhari.
The forest minister in the previous PDP-BJP government, Singh was asked to resign from the cabinet in April after he participated in a rally in support of the accused in the rape and murder of an 8-year-old Muslim tribal girl in Kathua.
In a reference to Kathua case, Singh told a press conference in Jammu on Friday that Kashmiri journalists had created a “wrong atmosphere” there.
“Now I will tell Kashmiri journalists to draw a line on the journalism you do and how you have to live. Do you have to live like what happened to Basharat, so that such a situation emerges?,” Singh said in an apparent reference to Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari who was assassinated by gunmen outside his office on June 14.
Shujaat Bukhari’s brother Basharat Bukhari was law and parliamentary affairs minister in the PDP-BJP government before BJP pulled the plug on the alliance and the state came under governor’s rule.
“So mend your ways and draw a line, so that this brotherhood remains intact and there is progress,” Singh said.
Singh’s statement was condemned by former chief minister and National Congress leader Omar Abdullah. “Dear journalists, your colleagues in Kashmir just got threatened by a @BJP4India MLA. It seems Shujaat’s death is now a tool for goons to use to threaten other journalists,” Omar tweeted.
Besides participating in the rally in favour of the Kathua rape accused, Singh has also attracted bad press for his threats to the Gujjars of Kashmir, reminding them of the massacre of Muslims in Jammu after partition in 1947.
Rising Kashmir editor-in-chief Shujaat Bukhari, 50, was assassinated when the three bike-borne youth opened fire at him just outside his office at press colony in Srinagar on June 14. His two personal security officers were also killed in the attack. The killing of Bukhari, who also edited papers like Buland Kashmir and Sangermal, sent shock waves across the country and attracted condemnations from across the board.