I am in tears. I am sad. I am angry. I have lost a friend and Bangladesh has lost one of her freethinking, progressive and liberal sons for no fault of his. The ugly faces of the bigots, who exploit our peaceful religion called Islam, have done the deed. They call themselves Al-Qaeda in South Asia (AQSA).
Faisal Arefin Dipan, the man behind Jagriti Prokashoni, was hacked to death in his quiet office in Dhaka's Aziz Super Market book hub by unidentified assailants, but all indications are there that the killers are the same people who were behind the killing of other bloggers.
Indeed there is an argument about bloggers that they hurt the religious sentiments of some and they should not do so. The law of Bangladesh also bans such comments against any religion. But for Dipan and other publishers, they are only in the business of producing many write-ups in black and white. How can that be a crime? Will it be a crime to publish books on the war of independence? Or, a book on our great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman because some disagree with him?
Islam, the religion of love and peace, does not sponsor murders the way Dipan or others have lost their lives.
The incident is clear --- it was a planned killing mission and, God willing, three others survived with injuries, while Dipan was not so lucky.
I remember meeting Dipan in his office in Aziz Super Market in mid-2014. My friend and colleague, TV news producer Rafiqul Islam Rowly, introduced me to him. Dipan said he was very eager to publish a book on how I had found my father's grave after 36 years of search, his state burial and of course my father's hitherto unknown work for the country's independence. I was delighted. I admitted to him that I was very lazy, not adept in the Bengali language as he was and definitely not a writer, but only a reporter. The very elegant and decent man, softly told me, "Nadeem bhai, give me your notes. The book is for posterity and if you do not write then an unknown episode of the war will be lost."
Then to reassure me about his status as a publisher, he gave me some of his published books and a list of what was coming at the Bangla Academy Ekushey book fair in 2015. I agreed. But what I gave him was not a book, but a narrative from my notes with some pictures. He went through it and asked for some elaboration on some points. That included a quick interview with retired Major Rafiqul Islam, MP, and former home minister. I did get that interview when Major Rafiq gave me some time despite his busy schedule. I also took a picture with him and Mrs Islam at their Gulshan apartment.
Dipan edited the book and did its layout, and finally came up with a title, "Muktijuddho: Ajana Oddhay." He was very happy with its sales at the book fair. I told him it was totally to his credit. Interestingly, he treated me to lunch at a restaurant in the market instead of me doing it...he would not allow me. He always said he had great respect and liking for me.
In September, 2015, we discussed his trip to London to coincide with a book fair and also about the second and more elaborate edition of my book --- which incidentally is my first major work in Bangla. I promised to do my best to meet the 2016 deadline, but also told him it would most likely be 2017 when the second edition would be with readers.
A few weeks back he posted photographs of his newly renovated office and showroom. I was delighted, but always asked him how he could have almost no staff inside his office, so quiet and dimly lit it was. I never got an answer.
But today I feel had there been a few more of his staff inside the office, these thugs could not have killed him. Many may ask me: do we have to have personal security? Yes, when you are in a business which makes enemies you need to do that and also ask the state to provide you with protection. However, that is not important at this stage. I wanted to share the experience of my meetings with him.
Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes in the rule of law and justice. She ensured that the Bangabandhu killing case was conducted in a normal court instead of special tribunals, and she did the same regarding the war crimes trials. The London-based Amnesty International may cry foul, almost liking the collaborators, but we know right from wrong.
But now enough is enough. We need to set up special summary tribunals for such killings --- general or militancy-related and mete out quick punishment.
Critics may cry foul about such tribunals and speak of a breach of human rights, but if you can criticise then you must have the heart and mind to accept such punishments.
Britain, European Union or Amnesty International must support Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina if she does set up the tribunals because you cannot ask for justice and also tell us how to do it. Those who killed Dipan are not bothered about human rights. So why should we be bothered about them?
The opposition BNP's founder General Ziaur Rahman hanged freedom fighter Colonel Abu Taher unjustly in a summary military court. Where was the question of human rights then?
Colonel Taher was injured in the leg in the 1971 war and the law forbids the hanging of a disabled person, but a warrior fell victim to the machinations of his rival. May his soul rest in peace.
To my friend Dipan, may you rest in peace! I will publish the next edition of my book dedicated to you --- I promise. The first was dedicated to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Nadeem Qadir ? reputed journalist and television compere ? is Minister (Press) at the Bangladesh High Commission in London