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By Kamran Reza Chowdhury
Dhaka: A year has elapsed since the killing of Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy, but police have yet to arrest his attackers and those who killed three more secular writers and a publisher in 2015.
Online activists and secularists allege that the government and police have been more active in arresting bloggers, writers and publishers for allegedly offending religious feelings than catching the killers of the five intellectuals.
“The fanatics have been attacking the free thinkers with machetes while the state, with its various mechanisms, has been putting pressure on the bloggers, writers, publishers and other liberal groups,” said Imran H. Sarker, spokesman for Gonojagoron Moncho (Mass Awakening Platform), a secular grassroots movement.
“How many of the killers of the bloggers and publishers were arrested or punished? But you see the police are very prompt to arrest the publishers or bloggers on the pretext of hurting religious sentiment,” Sarker told BenarNews.
On Feb. 15, police arrested the publisher, printer and marketer of a book called “Islam Bitorko” (“Islam Debate”), and shut down the stall at the Ekushey Book Fair in Dhaka where copies of the work were being sold.
Machete-wielding assailants killed Roy and injured his wife Rafida Bonya Ahmed on the Dhaka University campus on Feb. 26, 2015, as they were leaving last year’s annual book fair.
Roy, an engineer and writer who was visiting Bangladesh from his home in the United States, ran the Mukto-Mona (Free Thinker) blog, which provided an online platform for the expression of secular thought in Bangladesh.
Since 2013, police have arrested four bloggers – Asif Mohiuddin, Moshiur Rahman Biplob, Rasel Parvez and Subroto Shuvo – for allegedly hurting religious sentiment.
Sarker said the blogger-killings and attacks on intellectuals had a negative impact on young people who were active in online campaigning against religious fanaticism and for social change in Bangladesh.
“The fanatics’ machete attacks and the police actions on the free-thinkers have passed on a message to the society that you will either be killed or face police action if you become a free-thinker. So, the number of bloggers and online activists has come down significantly. Most of the bloggers and atheists are leaving the country,” said Sarker.
Mahbub Leelen, a publisher and writer who has fled Bangladesh, said that government inaction on the killings had sent a message of encouragement to fundamentalists.
“They are getting green signals from the government, either directly or indirectly that, if they kill someone, nothing will happen,” Leelen told BenarNews.
Roy’s murder opened a floodgate for killings of bloggers, writers and free thinkers in 2015.
Bloggers Washiqur Rahman, Ananta Bijoy Das, Niladri Chottopaddhya (Niloy Neel) and Faisal Arefin Dipan, a publisher of Roy’s books, were all hacked to death in 2015.
Eight suspected militants have been arrested in connection with the murders, but police are not sure whether these individuals are the actual killers, Maruf Hasan Sarder, a spokesman for Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told BenarNews.
“The U.S. government agency, FBI, came to Dhaka and collected samples of DNA from the spot where Avijit and his wife were attacked. We have yet to get the DNA profile report from the FBI. If available, the profile report would help us find out the real killers,” Sarder said.
He refuted the allegation that police were harassing free thinkers and bloggers.
On Thursday, Monirul Islam, the deputy inspector general in charge of the police department’s counter-terrorism unit, told a press conference that police had detected three alleged Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) militants who had participated in Roy’s murder.
But police would not disclose their names, Islam said.
Police and investigators say the ABT – a banned militant outfit that has attracted students from different colleges in Bangladesh – is responsible for all the attacks on the bloggers, secularists and publishers.
On Dec. 31, 2015, a court handed down death sentences for two ABT militants in the killing of Ahmed Rajib Haider, the first blogger to be slain in Bangladesh, in February 2013.
Haider was hacked to death in broad daylight on a Dhaka street amid mass demonstrations that demanded a secular society and capital punishment for criminals from Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan in 1971. Haider had been instrumental in mobilizing the so-called Mass Awakening protests in Dhaka’s Shahbag Square.
‘He did not pay heed’
A year later, Roy’s relatives are enduring a painful wait for justice in his murder.
“There is no question of being satisfied with the pace of investigation,” Roy’s father, retired Dhaka University physics professor Ajoy Roy, told BenarNews.
“I will not be happy until the real killers get punishment. Unless the culprits are tried, the freedom of expression cannot be ensured. The bloggers, writers, publishers must be given a congenial atmosphere to write against social evils.”
The elder Roy said he had asked his son and daughter-in-law not to come to Bangladesh a year ago.
“But he did not pay heed to my words. And it happened, what I feared,” he said.
Contacted by BenarNews, Roy’s widow declined to comment on the anniversary of his death.
“It is too emotional for me,” Rafida Bonya Ahmed said. (Published with permission from BenarNews)
The city of Delhi has seen it all; from sultanate rule, to dynasties, and to colonial rule. From monarchy to democracy, Delhi has gone through its phases. But, in order to know and explore the nuances of Delhi, you must read these beautiful books.
1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
This book was written while Dalrymple was still flirting with his love for the Medieval India. The author writes, "Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend," and just like this, Dalrymple takes you in a tour to discover Discover Delhi.
2. Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller by Raza Rumi
This book explores how the author explores his identity as a South Asian Muslim and how his city of Lahore is a mirror image of Delhi. Rumi, in this book, tries to co-relate the past with the present by comparing its festivals, streets, and markets.
3. Delirious Delhi: Inside India's Incredible Capital by DavePrager
This book is quite interesting. The story of this book revolves around the lives of Dave and Jenny who have recently moved to Delhi when their firm began to go down. The city of Delhi in this book is shown through their eyes as they try to make their way in the city that holds together a very large population.
4. The Heart has its Reasons by Krishna Sobti, Translated by Reema Anand, Meenakshi Swami
The original title of this book is "Dil - o - Danish". This book tells the reader about the streets of Old Delhi and almost transport the reader back in the past. This book is basically set in the 1920's, and tells the tale of a man's extramarital affair, his children out of wedlock, black magic, and Chandni Chowk's rich culture of sweets and the perils of being a widow. Interestingly, many have compared the author of this book to Jane Austen.
5. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh
Who would talk about Delhi and not remember Khushwant Singh? This amazing book is just like a narrative of the author's fulfilled love affair with the city and with a eunuch. The narrator in this book is an aging man who is trying to discover the city. This book is truly a masterpiece, where it takes the readers on the history of Delhi glimpsing at what makes the city what it is– simply beautiful.
There are some of the Indian cities which are older than time. Therefore, we must know which cities are they, and what has been their history!
1. Varanasi (1200 BC–)
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities of India, and has been a center of religious and cultural activity since the Bronze Age. In fact, this city might have been in existence from a very long time, since it finds mention in the Rig Veda. It is believed that the city of Varanasi was thriving for more than 1600 years before the fall of the Roman Empire in Europe. This city is one of the holiest places for Hindus and Jains, and even Lord Buddha gave his very first sermon here in 528 BC. In Hinduism, it is believed that dying in Varanasi brings salvation, which is the reason why the city is always brimming with pilgrims.
2. Ujjain (700/600 BC–)
Ujjain was once considered as one of the most prominent cities in the Middle India. In fact, the name of this city is repeatedly mentioned in the literature of that period, i.e. in the works of stalwarts like Kālidāsa. This city has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, from the Mauryas to the Avantis, Nandas, and even the Guptas. This city, just like Varanasi, is also considered as one of the holiest cities in India, and hosts one of the officially recognized Kumbh melas, the Ujjain Simhastha Kumbh, in which people across the world take place.
3. Madurai (500 BC–)
Madurai been a major center of culture and trade for more than 2500 years. In fact, the name of this city has been mentioned in the writings of the great traveler, Megasthenes, and has been ruled by several empires from the Pandyas and the Cholas to the Karnata, and finally the British. Interestingly, ‘'Koodal,' was one of its ancient name which means 'a congregation of learned men'. There is no doubt that Madurai was an epicenter of scholars and religious teachers in the southern part of India.
4. Thanjavur (300 BC–)
Thanjavur was formerly known as Tanjore. This city is pretty famous for its Tanjore style of painting, which is a traditional style that is characterised by the use of gold foil, religious imagery, and simple compositions. This city is best known for being the home of the Great Living Chola Temples, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Till date, people across the world visit this place in order to experience its rich history and heritage.
By- Digital Hub
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Human hair wigs on display at a store Image source: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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