Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Bangladeshi-born Canadian ‘Mastermind’ of Dhaka Café Terror attack Tamim Chowdhury Dies in Shootout at Naryanganj, Bangladesh
Naryanganj, Bangladesh, August 28, 2016: In a shootout with police near the capital on Saturday, the Bangladeshi-born Canadian leader of a militant faction who was the “main mastermind” of July’s deadly siege at a Dhaka café was killed with two other suspects in a shootout with police near the capital on Saturday, officials said.
Tamim Chowdhury, 30, and two unidentified suspects were shot dead while resisting arrest during a mid-morning raid by police and security forces on a house in Naryanganj, a district on the outskirts of Dhaka, according to authorities.
“This is a matter of shame for us that a notorious terrorist like Tamim Chowdhury resided near us,” Azizur Rahman, a resident of Paikpara, a section of Narayanganj where the gunfight took place, told a BenarNews correspondent at the scene.
Chowdhury’s name figured prominently among at least 10 people identified by police as alleged “masterminds” of the July 1 terrorist attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery restaurant. Twenty hostages – mostly foreigners – were reportedly killed with machetes during the overnight siege in Dhaka’s diplomatic quarter. The five alleged attackers were all killed when security forces stormed the restaurant and broke the siege on the morning of July 2.
— Abhijit Majumder (@abhijitmajumder) August 27, 2016
The so-called extremist group Islamic State claimed that its fighters carried out the attack, but the government has since denied that a link exists between the siege and any transnational terror group. A recent edition of Dabiq, IS’s propaganda magazine, claimed that Tamim Chowdhury headed the group’s network in Bangladesh. After Saturday’s shootout, Bangladesh’s home minister and national police chief repeated earlier official denials about IS having any presence in the country.
Follow NewsGram on Twitter
“Tamim Chowdhury is among the three militants killed today. We have yet to identify the two others, but we think [they were] his close aides,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told reporters while visiting the scene.
Chowdhury headed a faction of the home-grown militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB), known as Neo-JMB, police counter-terror chief Monirul Islam told BenarNews. Authorities had put a bounty of 2 million taka (U.S. $25,565) on Chowdhury’s head.
Apart from identifying him by name, police named one “Marjan” as among the other masterminds behind the plot, but they declined to disclose the names of the others.
The investigation into the café attack so far has yielded two suspects in custody. A British citizen and a Canadian resident, both of Bangladeshi origin and who were inside the café as the attack unfolded, are being held over allegations that they behaved suspiciously and may have abetted the hostage-takers – a charge that their families and lawyers have denied.
‘Free of another curse’: PM
Bangladeshi officials have said that JMB-linked militants were behind the attack at the café, an attack on the country’s largest annual Eid prayer gathering on July 6, as well as killings of religious minorities and other violent extremist acts.
Later Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina praised the police and intelligence services for the operation that took out Chowdhury.
“The main mastermind of the Holey Artisan [attack] has been eliminated,” Hasina told reporters at her office, according to Agence France-Presse.
“The nation has become free of another curse,” she said, adding that the “elimination of the extremists” would bolster “people’s confidence.”
Follow NewsGram on Facebook
The shootout came ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled arrival in Dhaka on Monday, where he is to hold talks with Bangladeshi officials about cooperation on security matters and other bilateral concerns, the State Department announced last week.
A dual U.S.-Bangladeshi citizen was among at least 17 foreigners killed in the café attack, and another national of both countries was among nine suspected militants killed in a police raid on a JMB hideout in Dhaka on July 26, Bangladeshi authorities said. Citing privacy laws, the U.S. embassy in Dhaka declined to confirm whether the slain suspect, Shehzad Rouf Arka, was an American citizen.
Acting on a tip, the police and members of the Rapid Action Battalion on Saturday morning encircled a three-story house in Paikpara, where the suspects were believed to be hiding in a second-floor apartment, officials said.
“They were asked to surrender, but they refused. Finally, the police carried out the operation and they died in the gunfight,” Inspector-General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Hoque told reporters at the scene.
In rebuffing the call to surrender, the suspects opened fire and threw hand grenades at security personnel, said Sanowar Hossain, an additional deputy commissioner of the national police’s counter-terrorist branch.
Authorities said they recovered an AK-22 rifle and two live grenades from the second-floor apartment.
An area resident and construction worker, Ruhul Amin, said the suspects lived in an apartment next-door to his.
He had left his apartment early in the morning for prayers at the local mosque, and was returning home when relatives telephoned him to alert him to stay away from the building, where the standoff with police was unfolding.
He said he rarely saw his neighbors next-door.
“I saw two of them once on a Friday as they were taking in some goods, such as a gas stove. Today, we came to know that they are militants,” said Amin. (BenarNews)
Tenali Ramakrishna, or Tenali Raman as he is more popularly known is Birbal's equivalent in South India. A court jester and a scholar exuding great wisdom, Tenali Raman was known as one of the greatest courtiers in King Krishnadevaraya's court.
The Vijayanagar Empire ruled a large part of South India between 1336 and 1646. In the 16th century, the kingdom rose to prominence under the eminent leadership of King Krishnadevaraya. His continuous victories against his enemies ensured a successful and peaceful reign for his subjects. As a patron of art and literature, many crafts and cultural assets thrived in the empire.
Krishnadevaraya's beloved courtier, Tenali Raman is the finest example of the splendour of the Vijayanagar empire. He was born in Tenali, a town in Andhra Pradesh. He lived here until he lost his father, after which his mother brought him to Vijayanagar. He was discovered for his excellent wit and wisdom, and appointed in the court. He was one of the king's ashtadiggajas (collective name for the eight poets and scholars).
A statue of Tenali Ramakrishna near a Municipal Office in Andhra Pradesh Image source: wikimedia commons
Tenali Raman as a scholar, published great texts of wisdom, which have now become artefacts of the Kingdom of Vijayanagara. But his fame does not lie in these achievements. He is known for the mischievous jester that mythical folklore portrays him to be. Through stories, many writers have used jokes to impart wisdom and morals to many generations of people. The stories of Tenali Raman are almost legendary in the Southern peninsula.
Textbooks have been written with his moral stories in mind, and these days, many self-help book are also incorporating his wisdom. His most popular stories are, 'Mother Tongue', 'Cursed Face', 'Saluting the Donkeys' and many more. Through these stories, Tenali Raman, in some way, brought about social justice. Perhaps this is why he is most beloved by many people even today.
Keywords: Tenali Raman, Vijayanagar empire, Krishnadevaraya, Jester, Wisdom
It must be noted that different religions and societies in Southeast Asia have alternative narratives of Ramayana, one of the greatest epic.
Here are some of the versions of Ramayana!
Dasaratha Jakarta: The Buddhist Version
Interestingly, this version of Ramayana does not mention Ravana at all and in fact, there’s no mention of Sita’s abduction, too. In this version, Dasaratha is the king of Benaras and not Ayodhya. Also, Rama and Sita leaves kingdom and go to the Himalayas and not forests. Then, after twelve years, Rama and Sita return back to Benaras and get married.
Paumachariya: The Jaina Version
In this version, Lakshamana is the killer of Ravana and not Rama. Here, Rama is an ardent follower of Jainism, and so he cannot be the killer of Ravana. Also, this version states an army of warrior and not monkeys, as stated in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Another interesting feature of this version is that Ramayana is not shown as a villain, rather a magnanimous king and follower of Jainism.
Gond Ramayani: The Gond Version
Gond is an adivasi clan belonging from Madhya Pradesh in India. Interestingly, in this version, the story begins from where Valmiki’s Ramayana ended; when Sita is rescued from captivity. Also, Bhima, one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata, is mentioned in this version. Unlike Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is not the protagonist in this version.
Ramakien: The Thai Version
This is considered as Thailand's national epic, and is still taught in some schools in the country. In this version, Ravana is shown as a learned scholar and a noble king in this version. Also, Ravana’s pursuit for Sita is depicted as true love. There are a lot of similarities between this version of Ramayana and Valmiki’s version, but this version lays a lot of emphasis on Hanuman.
When a baby is born in an Indian household-they invite hijra to shower the newborn with their blessings for their blessings confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. But when that child grows up we teach them to avert their eyes when a group of hijras passes by, we pass on the behaviour of treating hijras as lesser humans to our children. Whenever a child raises a question related to gender identity or sexuality they are shushed down. We're taught to believe that anything "deviant" and outside of traditional cis-heteronormativity is something to be ashamed of. This mentality raises anxious, scared queer adults who're ashamed of their own identity, and adults who bully people for "queer behaviour".
Hijras are a community of people who include eunuchs, intersex, and transgender people. They worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata. Most hijras, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony known as "nirvana" in which they remove their male genitalia as an offering to their goddess. The whole community is vibrant with hundreds of people with hundreds of ways of expression, the true identity of a hijra is complex and unique to each individual. In India, hijras prefer to refer to themselves as Kinner/Kinnar as it means the mythological beings who excel at singing and dancing.
Hijras worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata.homegrown.co.in
The hijra community works systematically, the community separates itself from the outside world and teaches lessons to the young ones in secret. Each community has a guru and the other hijras are their disciples or chela. The "hijra ways of life" are taught to the disciples in a secluded environment where they leave their families and live with other hijras in the community. More often than not hijras are thought of as nothing different from transgender and often referred to as transgender; however, scientifically these two terms denote a different class of people. Hijras are a part of the whole community of people with various identities and of spiritual and cultural values meanwhile, transgender merely refers to those people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, they are a part of the community and do not represent the whole community.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
Historically and culturally the community has existed in the Indian subcontinent as long as the civilization has existed. There are mentions of hijra in The Mahabharata, a holy book of Hindus. Shikhandi who was neither male nor female is a mythological legend. In another version of Mahabharata Arjuna, one of the Pandavas was cursed to be the third gender by Urvashi, when he refused to be sexually involved with her. In a story by Padma Purana, it is seen that Arjuna transforms into a woman to take part in Krishna's mystical dance which only women can take part in. The Hijra figures are prominent in Indian Mughal History as well, referred to as Khwaja Siras and known for their loyalty to the ruler, they worked as the sexless watchdogs of the Mughal harems. They held important positions in court and various facets of administration during Mughal-era India, from the 16th to 19th century. The Hijra community is a testament to the sexual diversity that is integral yet often forgotten in Indian culture.
If the whole hijra community was looked upon with enamor and respect in our history, what happened that when we come across the community we look at them with contempt and are filled with a mixture of negative, fear, laughter, and odd emotions. It's owing to the fact that under British Raj, the Criminal tribes Act 1871 hijras were criminalized and the law was made to eradicate the whole community. However, these acts were abolished by the Indian government after independence, and by 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh all had officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights where the third gender means individuals categorizing themselves as neither male nor female. Even though the progress is slow but in 2015 Madhu Kinnar became the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh.
ALSO READ: India's first Residential Transgender
Although the hijra community was revered by society and is invited to births and weddings for religious and spiritual ceremonies, they still become victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hate crimes against the community have become common. They are deprived of education, job opportunities, seating in restaurants, etc. leading them to live in poor conditions barely surviving. They often have to resort to begging and prostitution to earn a daily living. The government has tried to address this issue by introducing bills for the protection of the hijra community, with prison terms and other punishments for those offending them, but there is little to no less effect on the social stigma against the community.
In India, the hijra community comes under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ and we notice that they lack voice and representation when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. We need to understand that when we fight for LGBTQ+ rights we fight for the whole community, we fight for hijras who have been victims of violence, hate crimes, and disrespect from none other than the people of our society. And although hijras are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, they have an independent subculture of their own. It is worth every effort to know about them, to study about them, to befriend them, and to smile at them for they are every bit of human as we are and they have nothing but blessings in their heart.