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Avijit in Necropolis

March 4, 2015

He was unknown to most of the Bangladeshis until February 26. His writings already earned him enemies. His father forbade him to come to Dhaka as fanatics vowed to kill him. Yet, he came to his loving city, which is witnessing its own destruction in the clash of feuding political parties, with the hope that it would keep him safe and appreciate his intellectual works written in his mother tongue.

US blogger Avijit Roy did not know his beloved city has changed.

Avijit, born and brought up in Bangaldesh, was brutally murdered at Dhaka University campus when he was returning home from the annual Ekushey Book Fair on February 26. His wife, also sustained injuries in that attack, was flown back to USA.

The assailants mounted the attack at the spot where in 2004 novelist and linguist Humayun Azad faced similar attack, mocking at the heavy presence of Police.

An investigative reporter depicted the gruesome moments, based on eye witnesses’ accounts, after the attack[1]:

Photojournalists Jibon and Rahman were sipping tea at a road-side tea stall at TSC , Dhaka University, just a few feet away from the spot [2]. Suddenly, they heard a scream. First, they tried to ignore it. Moments later, roused by suspicion, they rushed to the spot. They saw bleeding Avijit was lying on the footpath, while his wife Banya was lying over the nearby road.

Jibon said,”I need to take few snaps. So, I took some pictures first. Banya was pleading the bystanders for help. None came to their rescue. She was drenched in blood. Still awestruck Banya went to Avijit. Then she turned towards me and asked for my help. I got close to Avijit and tried to raise his head. I noticed his brain was coming out of the wounded head. He was bleeding profusely.”

Jibon also asked the onlookers for help. He asked the policemen standing nearby to hire a CNG-run auto rickshaw. But they did not respond to his request. Later, he , Banya and some other persons tried to pull Avijit up. He then stopped a CNG, requested the passenger to leave the vehicle for a gravely wounded person, and got Avijit into the auto.

The DU campus has become unsafe place since the commencement of BNP- led alliance’s agitation. Cocktails are being exploded every single day at the campus. Security tightened ahead of book fair. Yet, Avijit was attacked amid this tight security and right before the Police.

He has long been a target of country’s religious extremist groups and newly popped up al-qaeda affiliated Ansarullah Bangla Team. Ansarullah Bangla Team, from a twitter account ‘Ansarullah Bangla Seven’, claimed the responsibility of the attack.

RAB arrested an Islamist blogger Shafiur Rahman Farabi , who is linked with Islamist party Jamaat-i-Islami, for threatening to kill Avijit in his facebook post. Farabi is already charged with the murder of another blogger and Shahbag activist Ahmed Rajib Haider.

A recently published news revealed a surprising fact: while in detention at Kasimpur high security prison, Farabi used to meet regularly with Ansarullah Bangla Team commander and was allowed to use mobile phone and operate his facebook account.

Govt just let him preach hatred unabated until his name came out in the media as the main instigator of the Avijit killing.

I have never heard of Avijit until he died in the attack of February 26. Avijit’s blog Muktomona—where late novelist Humayun Azad used to contribute—-promotes and welcomes contents about science, sex, terrorism, religion and literature. Reading his articles, I found him a humanist, a myth-buster and a writer who had the rare ability to popularize science. Unlike the celebrity atheists who like to write passionately their prose, in his approach he sounds more like a rationalist who is more interested in logical discourse .

With the aid of metaphors, he explained why one becomes a terrorist. Like parasite Lancet Fluke that drives an ant to reach to the tip of a grass in a bid to reproduce itself inside the stomach of a herbivore, religious virus overrides the consciousness of a human being and makes him a terrorist [3].

His reasoning is very strong to rule out. Having read one of his works for the first time, one gets interested to read rest of his works.

His well-researched blog posts often focus on the jihadi network in Bangladesh’s elite private universities[4].

Avijit’s death highlights once again the lackluster attitude of govt towards terrorism. Rajib Haider’s murder, Jamaat’s communal strife across the country, rise of Ansarullah Bangla Team, JMB men’s prison break and swollen Islami Bank’s growing association with govt events seriously call into question govt’s willingness in the fight against the terrorism.

Avijit’s efforts in explaining religious extremism and social taboos are a few drops, dried out before they reach to the wider section of the society, into this land of dead ideas [5]. Nevertheless, dead Avijit seems to draw more attention of the average Bangladeshis and his works are finding more readers. His views are spreading faster than before.

Avijit is invincible: in his end is his beginning!

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Notes:

[1]. The report titled ‘Nishthur Nirliptota‘ (Cruel Inaction) was published in Daily Samakal.

[2]. Jibon and Rahman respectively work for Banglar Chokh and Focus Bangla.

[3]. ‘Biswaser virus: Rajib Haiderer Roktobij‘ (Virus of Faith: Root Cause of Rajib Haider’s Murder) published in online news portal bdnews24.com.

[4]. Following the arrests of the slain blogger Rajib’s assailants, in one of his posts titled ‘Biswaser Virus: North South Biswabidyalaya ki jongibader Ovoyaranya hoye utheche?‘ ( Virus of Faith: Has North South University Become A Sanctuary for the Terrorists?), he discussed at length how the Jamat and Hijbut-Tahrir influenced teachers and trustee board turned North south University into a jihadi factory. Kazi Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, arrested in sting operation by FBI in connection with an attempt to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank, was also a student of this university. Despite several news and intelligence reports, we see a controversial trustee board member,also a member of Ibn Sina Trustee board, retains his position in the board.

[5].Zia Haider Rahman, a British novelist of Bangladeshi origin,at a program at Dhaka University in December 2014 commented “Bangladesh is a land of dead ideas”. What he tried to construe is that most of the people living in the bottom rung of the society are not interested to take initiative. Rather, they are molded into followers who implement ideas (orders) of people holding superior positions in the hierarchy. The society itself does not tolerate any deviation from that.

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