Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Saturday, August 8, 2015, Shraban 24, 1422 BS, Shawal 22, 1436 Hijr

Phantom Of Death Haunts Bloggers-Part-1
Who is next target? 
Pulack Ghatack
Published :Saturday, 8 August, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 220

Phantom of death is haunting Bachchu Shahjahan -a poet, publisher and freethinker, who is used to criticizing popular beliefs and faiths through his Facebook posts.
He cannot sleep in his house and frequently changes hideouts to escape from the militants and fanatics who have issued numerous death threats against him through phone calls and messages.
"Initially I ignored the threats, thinking that it would be useless to go after unknown scoundrels. But after the killings of Washikur Rahman Babu and Ananta Bijoy, I took the matter seriously. Basically my family has become afraid," Bachchu Shahjahan told the Daily Observer on Sunday.
Fanatic religious groups have recently ambushed four bloggers in a short span of five months and hacked them to death with machetes in an identical style. The law enforcers could not identify the organised gangs or the perpetrators. Latest on the list is Niloy Chattapadhay, who was hacked to death at his residence in the capital on Friday.
On May 12, four masked men attacked Ananta Bijoy Das in Sylhet and hacked him to death with cleavers and machetes.
His murder came a week after al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent claimed responsibility for Avijit Roy's killing on February 26, in which his wife was badly injured. Avijit was a noted writer and secular blogger. Police on suspicion arrested an Islamist over his murder, but could not make any headway in the investigation.
Another atheist blogger, Washiqur Rahman Babu, was hacked to death in Dhaka in March. People captured two madrassa students red-handed from the spot and handed them over to police. But the law enforcing agencies could not track anyone else of the killers' gang.
In February 2013, another atheist blogger, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was stabbed to death. A month later in March 2013, blogger Asif Mohiuddin, who wrote blogs critical of Islam, was severely injured in a similar attack.
Death threats and attacks on secular writers and free thinkers by religious extremists also happened in the past. Police spoke of emergence of Harkat-ul-Jihad when poet Shamsur Rahman was attacked in 1999.
The religious extremist groups swung into action again with the attack on noted  writer Humayun Azad in 2004. The incidents have taken a systematic turn of killing in these days and the extremists have apparently taken a mission to kill the bloggers one after another.
Jamaat-e-Islami and some other Islamist political parties are believed to be nurturing the extremist groups.
Since 2013, at least five bloggers have been attacked by fanatics after another hardline group, Hefazat-e-Islam, publicly sought the execution of atheists who organised mass protests demanding trial of war criminals in 2013.
Hefazat also staged a massive counter-protest against the bloggers in May 2013 that unleashed violence and left nearly 50 people dead.
Bachchu Shahjahan lived in Japan for five years. After returning home in 1993, he established a publishing house "Bishaka Prokashoni," in Dhaka and published over 600 books of poetry of different poets. Though publishing poetry is not profitable, he does it to promote the poets. He also authored a poetry book "Rong Dhong Tamasa."
Since 2009, he is very much active in Facebook and being an atheist, he continuously criticises different faiths and dogma.
He had a plan to establish study centres for secularism in different parts of the country. Initially he purchased a land in Tetulia to establish Suddho Charcha Kendra, a study centre for secularism. But he cannot go there for fear of being killed.
Like Bachchu Shahjahan, all the writers, bloggers, online activists and promoters of secular thoughts are in trouble. Now, their main concern is who would be the next person to be killed.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]