With the killing of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider in February 2013, banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team started a spate of attacks against free-thinkers, which continued till 2016.
A total of eight free-thinkers were hacked to death in a similar manner in those years, with four being killed within just seven months in 2015.
Today is the sixth death anniversary of blogger and science writer Ananta Bijoy Das, who was hacked to death in broad daylight in Sylhet by a group of masked assailants in that gruesome year.
Six long years after the gruesome killing, his family members are still awaiting justice, as the case filed in connection with the murder is still under trial at Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal of Sylhet.
So far, testimonies of 19 witnesses out of 29 have been recorded in the court, and three recent scheduled dates were deferred due to several reasons, including the "lockdown".
After Ananta's murder, his father Rabindra Kumar Das died on April 21, 2017. His mother Pijush Rani Das is suffering from different ailments for long and was in hospital for 15 days recently. His brother Ratneshwar Das has also been ill for a long time and is not willing to talk about it.
Somor Bijoy Shee, brother-in-law of the slain blogger, said, "His mother, brother, sister, we relatives and his well-wishers are awaiting justice."
Ananta was killed on the morning of May 12, 2015 at Subidbazar area near his residence in Sylhet, when he was on his way to work with his sister.
Banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team claimed responsibility for the murder.
Ratneswar had filed a murder case accusing several unnamed persons with Airport Police Station that day, and the investigation was later handed over to Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
On October 18 in 2016, Arman Ali, inspector of CID and investigation officer of the case, pressed a charge sheet, but the court rejected it and ordered CID to reinvestigate and file a supplementary charge sheet, which was later filed on May 9 last year.
The accused in the charge sheet are Shafiur Rahman Farabi, Mannan Yahya alias Mannan Rahi, Abul Khaer Rashid Ahmed, Abul Hossain alias Abul Hussain, Harunur Rashid and Faisal Ahmed.
Among them, Farabi and Abul Khaer are now in jail, while Mannan, the only one among them who confessed before the court, died on November 2, 2017, after he fell ill at Dhaka Central Jail.
The other three accused are on the run.
The case was initially under trial at Additional Metropolitan Session Judge in Sylhet, and in early 2020, it was transferred to Anti-terrorism Special Tribunal in Sylhet.
Advocate Emad Ullah Shahidul Islam, the plaintiff's lawyer, said, "Since the case was transferred to the special tribunal, the trial is gaining pace, but yet many dates are still being deferred due to many reasons like the accused and witnesses' absence, and the court's closure due to the lockdown."
"The tribunal will set a new date soon after reopening following Eid and lockdown, and we're hopeful that the trial will conclude in a couple of months," he said.