Yesterday a group of four killers of a new militant outfit Ansar Al Islam, surfacing as the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda of Indian subcontinent, murdered a 28-year old blogger Niladri Chattopadhya Niloy at the victim’s residence.
This is the fourth such murder of bloggers this year and the fifth from 2013.
Needless to say that such atrocities would not have happened had our law enforcers brought the killers of the other slain bloggers to book. Except for the arrest of several private university students in connection with Rajib Haider’s murder in 2013, the police remain clueless.
The police can always argue that the killers were so elusive that they did not leave enough clues.
Then what about the police’s refusal to help the latest victims beforehand which could have prevented the heinous act?
Back in February when militants similarly killed writer and free thinker Avijit Roy at the TSC crossing, police did not come to save him. The cops later told media that they thought it must be a scuffle among students.
This time Niladri went to Khilgaon and Shahjahanpur police stations to file a general diary (GD) stating that he was being followed by two unknown persons. Police refused to record the GD. One of the police officers he talked to suggested that he leave the country for his own safety.
The officer-in-charge of Khilgaon Police Station yesterday denied to The Daily Star that Niladri came to his office to file a GD.
Yesterday evening, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal promptly told BBC Bangla Service that the slain blogger didn't go to police to file a GD, saying, “As far as I know, he [Niladri] didn't tell anyone about his insecurity. He also didn't inform the police.”
Was Niladri lying? He had a facebook post on this matter. He also, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper in May, categorically mentioned that the police did not take his complaint seriously.
We believe Niladri was not lying. The GD would not have given him the security he needed. But that would have initiated an investigation process. And from various instances, including the recent murder of young boy Rajon in Sylhet, we know the role of a section of the police in protecting the criminals and undermining the victims.
The Home Minister acted like he’s a minister of the police – whose image needed to be protected and not the minister of the victim Niladri who can be wasted like other free-thinkers.
These actions stand in stark contrast to the very image of the Sheikh Hasina’s government which internationally poses as a strong government against militants. How can the government contain militancy with such lackluster attitude in the police and the administration? If this is how the government responds to militancy threats, then we can say the government is losing grip over the matter.
From time to time we have seen militant forces have successfully driven smear campaign against free thinkers.
To justify Niladri’s murder yesterday, the killer group’s e-mail quoted a verse from Sura Ahzab: “Indeed, those who abuse Allah and his messenger- Allah has cursed them in the world and the hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment.”
Such wrong use of a holy verse would influence many religious minded people to secretly think that killing was justified – without asking if the killers themselves were playing God.
Many, on the other hand, fear to express solidarity with the victims fearing that they would become the next victim.
To counter the spread of such venom, the government in 2008-09 thought of deploying preachers to talk against militancy. Our preachers however did not cooperate.
After this, the government ran out of steam. It did not consider deploying Islamic thinkers to philosophically counter such atrocities and blasphemies of the militants to show the people that no humanbeing could play God by judging and killing another person for their belief and that killing someone during the Juma prayers could not be anything Islamic – but was an insane criminal act.
In the police front too, we don’t see any remarkable move to contain such killings. After all, four bloggers have been killed just this year and no headway was made to uproot the militant force behind the killings.
The government’s image as a secular, progressive and anti-militant political force has been greatly damaged by such killings and the government should look at itself in the mirror to see if this is the image it is happy with.