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Bangladesh is yet to catch culprits in the murder of blogger Avijit Roy

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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.

‘Green signals’

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.

Awaiting DNA

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)

 

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Pakistan : Law Minister forced to step down, Is the notorious Islamic nation on way to collapse?

With growing influence of Islamic extremists on one hand and separatist movements on other hand, it is really a tough road ahead for Pakistan. The den of terror is on way to collapse

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Islamic Terrorism
Supporters of the extremist Tehreek-e-Labaik party Pakistan (VOA)

After few weeks of ongoing drama Pakistan government on Monday made a deal with leaders of an extremist Islamist protest movement, agreeing that Pakistan law minister would step down from his position in return for an end to violent protests that had resulted in brutal clashes and immobilised the Pakistani capital since last few weeks. The law minister, Zahid Hamid, whom protesters had accused of blasphemy, resigned as part of negotiations overseen by Pakistan’s military. Law Minister Zahid Hamid had been accused by clerics of committing blasphemy due to a change in the wording of an oath taken by parliamentarians. The extremists, led by Rizvi, believed the change in wording as representing a softening of the state’s position against members of the Ahmadi sect, who are not permitted to identify themselves as Muslims in Pakistan. Like many times in past once again in Pakistan the government surrendered to the extremists. A dozen of people were killed and around 250 people were wounded in clashes between protestors and security forces.

“On the assurance of the Chief of Army Staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” Muslim extremist and protest leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi representing radical “Tehreek-e-Labaik” told a crowd of around 2,500 demonstrators in Islamabad on Monday.

Islamic Extremists
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party (VOA)

This is not the first time when Islamic extremists have highjacked the government in Pakistan. Not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago. The political situation in Pakistan has never been a swift ride ever since 1947, as four times democratic governments were thrown away by military dictators, one prime minister was killed while another one was hanged by judiciary, many were sent home by presidents and two were dismissed by the Supreme Court, the latest been Nawaz Sharif.

The recent developments have again proved that Pakistan’s democratically elected government has no authority, it is the islamic extremists who hold the jar of power dictating government what to do and what not to do. Few days back only, a judicial panel ordered the release of Islamic militant leader Hafiz Saeed who was the mastermind of deadly Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 from house arrest. Hafiz Saeed have a huge following and popularity in Pakistan, and was to take up leadership of a political party which he planned to start. The matter of concern is future of Pakistan with such terrorists penetrating in power corridors.

With growing extremism on one side, separatist movements are also growing in Pakistan. Baloch freedom movement is gaining pace and a large section of Pashtun population are also demanding an independent Pashtunistan. There are several similarities between the Pakistani Army committing hideous crimes in Bangladesh (what was then East Pakistan) and Balochistan & Pashtunistan. Mass killings, the rape of women, laying human habitations to waste, targeted assassinations – Bangladesh saw it all during its Liberation War of 1971. Balochistan and Pashtunistan continues to witness these horrors. Religious minorities are also often targeted including the Shia and Ahmadi muslim population.

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With growing Wahhabism on one hand and separatist movements on another hand its really a tough job for Pakistan’s government to keep the country intact. Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. [bctt tweet=”Pakistan should now understand that there is no good terrorism and bad terrorism. The snake you raise in your backyard is more likely to bite you before it bite your neighbour.”] In such grave situations, civil society of Pakistan must ponder over the state of affairs and should reject terrorism against India, only then a progressive Pakistan can exist. A progressive and stable Pakistan is equally important for neighbouring countries.

–  by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

2 responses to “Pakistan : Law Minister forced to step down, Is the notorious Islamic nation on way to collapse?”

  1. Good analysis, Pakistan must look within and stop religious extremists before they take control of whole nation.

  2. That is a very good and deep analysis. Pakistan is imploding from inside, religious extremist groups have the upper hand while ethnic suppression is igniting separatism. Ethnic Pashtun and Baluch nationalism should be empowered to put an end to the terror-producing machinery in Pakistan that means total collapse of Pakistani dysfunctional, apartheid and panjabi fascist failed state.