Update March 11, 2015

Dhaka 8-58 am, 27-November, 2020

Blogger Avijit Roy’s wife Bonna says she remembers the faces of the five assailants from the crime

Sumel Sarker

Avijit killing

Murdered blogger Avijit Roy’s wife says she remembers the faces of the five assailants from the crime.

11 March 2015, Nirapad News: At least five youths in jeans pants and T-shirts hacked writer-blogger Avijit Roy to death on Dhaka University campus. His wife, who was severely injured while trying to defend herself, also says she will be able to identify them.

In their mid-20s, the youths were clean-shaven, Avijit’s wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna told her father-in-law Prof Ajay Roy over the phone recently.

Detectives earlier said two youths had carried out the pre-planned attack on Avijit on a footpath near the TSC intersection while a dozen others, suspected accomplices, tailed the couple as they left the book fair premises.

Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday allowed two petitions by police detectives seeking permission to hand over evidence, seized materials and samples collected from Dhaka Medical College to the FBI team assisting the Bangladeshi investigators since March 5.

A US citizen and bio-engineer by profession, Avijit was hacked to death and his wife Bonna critically injured when miscreants attacked them machetes on February 26 on their way back home from the Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Bonna was flown to the USA last week for better treatment.

“I talked to her last night [Monday] over the phone. She said she noticed five youths during the attack and will be able to identify them later. The youths had no beards,” he said quoting her.

Prof Roy, an Ekushey Padak winner and retired physics teacher of Dhaka University, filed a murder case against unidentified persons a day after the attack. He blamed the fanatics linked to Jamaat-e-Islami and other militant organisations for the killing.

Bonna told him that she had given a witness account to the police detectives before leaving Bangladesh and that she would give another detailed statement, if needed.

She alleged that the law enforcers, stationed nearby for book fair security, had not acted at the time of attack.

In a statement, Bonna said yesterday: “When we were attacked, the policemen on duty standing close by did not act. Now we demand that the Bangladesh government do everything possible to bring the murderers to justice.”

An inquiry team formed by the police has also found negligence on the part of those policemen stationed in the TSC (Teachers Students Centre) area.

Monirul Islam, head of the police detectives who are yet to identify the killers, said they were trying to arrest the culprits. “We think extremist militants killed Avijit as they did not like his write-ups.”

So far, the law enforcers have arrested Shafiur Rahman Farabi, who had threatened Avijit with death several times on social media. Currently on a 10-day remand, Farabi has confessed to making the threats but denied involvement in the murder. RAB said Farabi was involved with banned Islamist outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which has claimed responsibility for the execution.

Another ABT leader Redwanul Azad Rana is the prime suspect in Avijit murder. Rana was also involved in the murder of blogger Ahmed Rajeeb Haider in 2013, detectives say.

After coming to Dhaka, the FBI team sat with the investigators and visited the crime scene. On Sunday, they went to the Criminal Investigation Department and talked to the forensic team who had collected evidence from the spot. The agents also inquired about the CID lab facilities.

Yesterday, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Bikash Kumar Saha approved two petitions filed by DB (Detective Branch) Inspector Md Fazlur Rahman, also investigation officer of the case.

Rahman mentioned in the petitions that the FBI team wanted to examine the evidence that include Bonna’s finger which had been severed by in the attack, two machetes, a blood-stained shirt and a school bag that the assailants carried – all collected from the crime scene.

‘Join Us in a Demand for Justice’

Bonna in a statement through New York-based Centre for Inquiry yesterday asked the government to prevent terrorism in the country.

“I do not believe that simply catching the killers will be enough. I urge the government to address terrorism and stop a legal culture of impunity, where writers can be killed without the killers being brought to trial. I urge the world to recognize what has happened and join us in this demand for justice.”

“My husband, Avijit Roy, wrote about science and rationalism and critiqued religious fundamentalism. Because of this, he was murdered.

“The Dhaka University campus has historically been a space for progressive movements. It is also where Avijit grew up. Despite the death threat, we could not fathom that such a heinous crime could take place in such an area – a crime not only against a person, but against freedom of speech and humanity.”

Michael De Dora, CFI’s representative to the UN and a friend of Avijit, said: “We are deeply grateful that Bonna is recovering from her ordeal…We are still reeling from the loss of our friend Avijit, a fellow human rights advocate. But it is clear from the tributes being paid to him around the world that the ideals he stood for – reason, compassion, and freedom of expression for all – will continue to inspire generations.”

Former BUET lecturer Avijit was the founder of Mukto-Mona blogsite, an online network of freethinkers of mainly Bangali and South Asian descent. He wrote over 600 blogs and 10 books and an e-book.

Before leaving the US for home, Avijit was a little worried about being attacked. But he did not stay away. Two of his books were launched in this year’s Book Fair. He became a target of radical Islamist first in 2008 following the publication of Obisshasher Dorshon (The Philosophy of Disbelief), but faced serious threats in 2013-14.

Avijit said after his book Bishwasher Virus (Bengali for The Virus of Faith) was released in 2014, it rose to the Book Fair’s bestseller list, but at the same time, “hit the cranial nerve of fundamentalists.”

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