Sec­u­lar blog­ger hacked to death in Bangladesh — fourth vic­tim in 2015


A gang armed with ma­chetes hacked a sec­u­lar blog­ger to death at his home in Dhaka Fri­day, spark­ing protests in the cap­i­tal over the fourth such mur­der in Bangladesh this year.

Niloy Chakrabarti, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, was killed af­ter the gang broke into his apart­ment, ac­cord­ing to the Bangladesh Blog­ger and Ac­tivist Net­work, which was alerted to the at­tack by a wit­ness.

“They en­tered his room in the fifth floor and shoved his friend aside and then hacked him to death. He was a listed tar­get of the Is­lamist mil­i­tants,” the net­work’s head, Im­ran H. Sarker, told AFP.

Po­lice con­firmed Chakrabarti, 40, had been mur­dered by a group of half a dozen peo­ple in the cap­i­tal’s Go­ran neigh­bor­hood, although they had no de­tails on the mo­tive for the killing.

“There were six peo­ple who knocked on his door, say­ing that they were look­ing to rent a flat,” Mun­tashirul Is­lam, a deputy po­lice com­mis­sioner, told AFP.

“Two of them then took him to a room and then slaugh­tered him there,” Is­lam said.

“His wife was in the flat but she was con­fined to another room.”

Mah­bubur Rah­man, another deputy com­mis­sioner, told re­porters that Chakrabarti’s wife had been heard cry­ing out “Save us! Save us!” dur­ing the at­tack but no one had re­sponded.

He is the fourth sec­u­lar blog­ger to be killed in the Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tion since Fe­bru­ary, when Bangladeshi- born U. S. citizen Avi­jit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka. Roy’s wife was also badly wounded in the at­tack.

The other vic­tims in­clude Ananta Bijoy, Das who was at­tacked by a group wield­ing ma­chetes on May 13 as he headed to work in Syl­het, and 27-year-old Washiqur Rah­man who was hacked to death in Dhaka in March.

Most sec­u­lar blog­gers have ei­ther gone into hid­ing, of­ten us­ing pseu­do­nyms in their posts, or have fled abroad.

Blog­gers in Hid­ing

Ac­tivist groups say they fear that Is­lamist hit squads have lists that con­tain the real names and ad­dresses of the blog­gers.

Asif Mo­hi­ud­din, another blog­ger who him­self sur­vived an at­tack in Bangladesh in 2013, de­scribed Chakrabarti as an athe­ist “free thinker” whose posts ap­peared on sev­eral sites.

“He was crit­i­cal against re­li­gions and wrote against Is­lamist, Hindu, Chris­tian and Bud­dhist fun­da­men­tal­ism,” Mo­hi­ud­din, who is now based in the Ger­man cap­i­tal Ber­lin, told AFP by phone.

Po­lice mean­while said Chakrabarti had been one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the large-scale protests in 2013 against Is­lamists con­victed of war crimes dat­ing back to the 1971 con­flict when Bangladesh se­ceded from Pak­istan.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the mur­der, hun­dreds of sec­u­lar ac­tivists joined a protest march in the city’s Shah­bagh Square, which was also the venue for the 2013 demon­stra­tions.

“We’re protest­ing a cul­ture of im­punity in Bangladesh. One af­ter another blog­ger is be­ing killed and yet there is no ac­tion to stop these mur­der­ers,” said Sarker, who was among the protesters.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said the gov­ern­ment had to do more to stop what it called “this spate of sav­age killings.”

“There is lit­tle doubt that these es­pe­cially bru­tal killings are de­signed to sow fear and to have a chill­ing ef­fect on free speech. This is un­ac­cept­able,” said David Grif­fiths, the Lon­don-based rights group’s South Asia re­search di­rec­tor.

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