New Delhi: Several journalist bodies on Thursday condemned the killing of senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of English daily "Rising Kashmir" Shujat Bhukhari by militants in Srinagar.
They also demanded that forces responsible for his killing should be brought to book at the earliest.
Militants fired from close range at Bukhari outside his office in the Press Enclave area of Residency Road in Srinagar killing him and his driver while critically injuring a security guard.
Condemning what it called a "dastardly attack", the Editors Guild of India said that Bukhari was "a voice of moderation and a courageous, big-hearted editor who mentored a large cadre of young journalists from Kashmir".
"The guild calls upon the government of Jammu and Kashmir to take urgent steps to bring to book the culprits and ensure safety and security for the media in the state," it said in a statement.
It added that an attack on a journalist challenges the very foundations of a free press and vibrant democracy and more so in a state like Jammu and Kashmir that is going through militancy.
"The guild also calls upon the state and Central government to enhance security for all journalists in Jammu and Kashmir. Recent weeks have also seen threats of violence against many journalists in different parts of the country," it said.
"The killing of Bukhari is a new low in a rapidly deteriorating environment for media practitioners in Kashmir, in particular, and in the country in general," it added.
Expressing "shock", the Press Club of India also "strongly condemned" the killing in the holy month of Ramadan and said that "forces inimical to restoring peace in Kashmir Valley had silenced a voice of reason, logic and peace".
"Press Club of India deeply mourns the loss of Shujaat Bukhari's life and extends its condolences to the bereaved family in this hour of crisis," it said in a statement.
It added that the "terror attack" showed that lives of journalists were not safe.
"Press Club of India has time and again underlined the threat to the lives of journalists working under difficult and challenging circumstances and demanded protection for them," it said.
The Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association and Federation of Press Clubs of India also expressed "deep shock and outrage at the brazen murder" of Bukhari.
They said that Bukhari was a respected journalist known for his wide range of analytical writings on Kashmir and that he continued to write actively despite the death threats issued to him.
"His murder can only be viewed as yet another attempt to muzzle the media and the freedom of the press in the valley," a joint statement said.
Bukhari started his career as a young reporter with Kashmir Times and moved to The Hindu in the 1990s. Later, he established his own English daily Rising Kashmir.