Fourth secular blogger hacked to death in Bangladesh


DHAKA, Aug 7: 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 forced their way 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 at his home in the capital’s Goran neighbourhood who had pretended they were looking for somewhere to rent.
“Two of them then took him to a room and then slaughtered him there,” Muntashirul Islam, a deputy police commissioner, told AFP.
“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!” but no one responded.
He is the fourth secular blogger to be killed in the Muslim-majority nation since February, when Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka. Roy’s wife was also badly wounded in the attack.
The other victims include 27-year-old Washiqur Rahman who was hacked to death in Dhaka in March and Ananta Bijoy Das who was attacked in May by a group wielding machetes in Sylhet.
In a Facebook post on May 15, Chakrabarti said he had been followed by two young men after taking part in a protest over Das’s murder.
He said he went to report the incident to police, but officers refused to register the complaint and instead told him to leave the country.
– Bloggers in hiding –
Most secular bloggers have gone into hiding, often using pseudonyms in their posts. And at least seven have fled abroad, according to a Canada-based atheist blogger Farid Ahmed, who helped several of them.
Activist groups say they fear Islamist hit squads have lists with the bloggers’ real names and addresses.
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 Berlin, told AFP by phone.
Police meanwhile said Chakrabarti had been one of the organisers 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


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