Washiqur Rahman, a Bangladesh based blogger, has been stabbed to death in the nation’s capital. He was attacked close to his home in Dhaka’s Begunbari area, a police official told AFP news agency. The attack, in which the 27 year old was struck by machete wielding assailants, has been seen to bear similarities to the murder of another blogger, Avijit Roy, in February.
Rahman was killed on a busy street in Dhaka. Three individuals are suspected of participating in the killings. Of them two men, Zikrullah and Ariful Islam, were arrested soon after the attacks.
Rahman blogged under a pen-name, Kucchit Hasher Channa, or Ugly Duckling. Local media reports have stated that Rahman held strongly secular views and was critical of religion and religious fundamentalism.
The attack draws attention to the loss in law and order in Bangladesh where violent unrest and crimes have seen an increase, particularly in recent months. At least 143 individuals have been killed since January, and the nation has witnessed a marked rise in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in police custody. Deaths have included elected local politicians and opposition activists as well as politically unaffiliated citizens. Firebombings have claimed many lives.
Rahman’s murder, a month after the murder of Avijit has renewed attention to the contentious state of free speech in Bangladesh. Control of media has witnessed a sharp rise as authorities have cracked down on dissenting voices. Media outlets, including newspapers and television channels, such as Islamic TV and Diganta TV, have been shut down and remain so. The outspoken editor of newspaper, Amar Desh, remains behind bars with allegations of facing custodial torture.
Protection of free speech has also been disputed as absent. Rafida Ahmed, the injured wife of the slain blogger Avijit, accused local police of standing by idly while her husband was butchered. Avijit Roy’s father and witnesses also reported that the attack on Avijit took place in police presence, yet the officers did not intervene and permitted the attackers to escape.
“While Avijit and I were being ruthlessly attacked, the local police stood close by and did not act,” Rafida Ahmed told Reuters in mid-March. She further demanded an end to “a legal culture of impunity, where writers can be killed without the killers being brought to trial.”
Washiqur Rahman’s killing is one more of a long line of deaths marring the nation as fresh calls are made demanding law enforcers address such crimes.
Image: Zikrullah and Ariful Islam (A.M. Ahad/AP)