In two violent and gory incidents yesterday, four publishers and bloggers were attacked resulting in the death of one and severe injuries to three others who were in critical condition till going to press. These are direct attacks on our freedom of speech and thought and we condemn them in the strongest terms.
In one incident Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, a friend and publisher of Avijit Roy, along with two colleagues, was attacked in his office in Dhaka by a group of men, reportedly armed with machetes and guns. In the other incident later in the day, Faisal Arefin Dipan, another publisher, was attacked in Shahbag and succumbed to his injuries.
The way these attacks were carried out speaks volume about the ever increasing recklessness of the extremists who commit such crimes. In the first case, the armed assailants reportedly barged in Tutul's office in broad day light and locked him along with two of his colleagues from outside. All three were stabbed and at least one of them was shot.
The question that looms large at this point is this: Did the law enforcement agencies provide Tutul with adequate security, if at all, after he filed a complaint with the police, being threatened with death on Facebook following the murder of Roy earlier this year?
These attacks give a new dimension to the whole thing; not only bloggers, but also those associated with them are now being targeted. And the extremists seem to be operating with impunity. Regrettably, so far, of the five blogger-murder cases, some progress has been made only in one. There must be a well-coordinated effort to identify these extremist groups as well as their sources of funding, anticipate their actions and catch and award them the due punishment.