Cautious, yet Nikhil could not survive
For the machete attack on tailor Nikhil Joardar of Tangail, assailants chose a comparatively quiet time at noon when he usually stayed alone at his shop.
His wife Aroti Rani would keep an eye on him most of the time since some locals in 2012 brought an allegation against him of making an “anti-Islam” comment, said relatives.
“My sister used to see him every 10 to 15 minutes at his tailoring shop, just yards away from their ancestral house,” said Amal Bhowmik, brother of Aroti.
Aroti, however, would take a break at noon for cooking and “the killers chose this hour to attack him,” he added.
This is why, Amal thinks the murder was pre-planned and committed after days of recce.
Nikhil's tailoring shop is on the edge of a local bazaar on Shuti Kalibari Road of Dubail under Gopalpur upazila, a couple of kilometres away from the municipality.
His movement was limited, mostly between his shop and house.
Two to three assailants, who came on a bike, took part in the killing on the roadside near his shop around 12:30pm on Saturday, leaving him dead on the spot, said police and locals.
He was hacked in the neck and head indiscriminately.
They left on the spot a bag containing two machetes, crude bomb-like objects and some clothes.
The motive is not yet clear, but the attack resembles the targeted killings of secular bloggers, writers and people of different faiths and ideologies over the last few years.
Hours after Nikhil's murder, global terror outfit Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for it, said US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist activities globally.
Following the killing, police arrested three locals -- Alamnagar Madrasa Principal Aminul Islam, Jamaat leader Rafiqul Islam and BNP activist Jhantu Miah.
The suspects were taken on remand yesterday.
According to locals and police, the allegation of making “anti-religious” comment was brought against Nikhil in April 2012 and different events, including protest rallies, were held demanding his arrest. The protesters even vandalised his shop and house.
Aminul Islam, the madrasa principal, filed a case against Nikhil with Gopalpur Police Station.
Arrested on May 2, he was granted bail after several weeks in jail. He then went into hiding for a few days in fear of retribution.
Locals say Nikhil was otherwise known to be a good man in the area.
“He would appear first whenever his neighbours needed help,” said Mohammad Wahab, an elderly man of Dubail.
Nikhil's elder daughter Banya Rani said his father was a simple man and never interfered with anyone else's business. “My father did not owe a penny to anyone.”
Following an autopsy at Tangail Medical College morgue on Sunday, the body was taken to his village Dubail in the afternoon for funeral.
Several hundred people gathered to see him for one last time.
Aroti was fainting every now and then seeing Nikhil's body. She managed to say, “I will seek justice for my husband's killing from the Almighty.”
A Tangail court yesterday put the three detainees on six-day remand each in two cases.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Anjan Kanti Das passed the order after investigators produced the suspects before his court with a remand prayer.
They were placed on remand separately in the two cases, said Mahfijur Rehman Ghulam, officer-in-charge of Detective Branch (DB) of police in Tangail.
During the hearing, defence lawyers sought bail for their clients but Judge Anjan rejected the prayer and granted the remand.
Gopalpur police detained the three a day after the killing from different places in Tangail. Later, they were shown arrested in the two cases.
On Saturday night, Nikhil's wife filed a murder case against three unidentified assailants and their patrons.
Sub-inspector Morshedul Alam of Gopalpur police filed another case under the Arms and Explosive Substances Act.
The cases were shifted to the Detective Branch in Tangail on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the investigators yesterday sent the crude bomb-like objects to Shaheed Salahuddin Cantonment in Ghatail for examination by military experts, said OC Mahfijur.