One Foyzur Rahman Faizul carried out a failed attempt to kill eminent academic Prof Zafar Iqbal during a program at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) in Sylhet.
Faizul attacked the SUST professor with a knife to the back of his head with the motive to kill.
Several teachers of Dhaka and Rajshahi Universities have come under attack for expressing secular opinions in their writings and speeches.
Militants had made threats to Prof Zafar’s life on several previous occasions in recent time.
The question that arises from this particular incident is if Zafar Iqbal was a victim of militant attack or he was targeted for raising his voice against ragging at Shahjalal University.
Prof Zafar was speaking at a two-day long fair organized by the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering when he was stabbed at the back of his head by an assailant armed with a knife around 5:40pm on Saturday.
The attacker was immediately taken down and detained by authorities after a severe thrashing.
Later, Faizul was admitted to a local hospital under the custody of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
While speaking with reporters on Saturday night, RAB 9 Chief Lt Col Ali Haidar Azad said: “During the interrogation, Faizur told us that he attacked Prof Zafar Iqbal because the professor was an enemy of Islam.”
“The assailant has been admitted to a hospital. During initial investigation, he provided us with contradictory statements. We are yet to determine whether he is a member of a terror group,” he said.
Also Read- ‘I attacked Zafar Iqbal because he is an enemy of Islam’
The RAB official said: “More details will be unearthed as we carry out further investigation regarding the assault on Zafar Iqbal.”
On February 27, 2004, Dhaka University Professor Humayun Azad was the target of a brutal attack at the Ekushey Book Fair for his secular principles. He was taken to Germany for treatment, where he died on August 11 the same year.
In a similar attack, Rajshahi University teacher Prof Dr Yunus was hacked to death by assailants in Binodpur area near the university on December 28, 2004.
On February 1, 2006, Rajshahi University's Geography Department Prof S Taher Ahmed went missing from the university’s residential area and his body found in a septic tank two days later.
Moreover, militants tried to slaughter the university's economics professor and also Ekushey Padak Sanat Kumar Shah in 2001.
Rajshahi University's sociology department teacher Prof AKM Shafiul Islam was murdered by assailants near his house in Chouddopai area of Rajshahi city on November 15, 2014.
On April 24, 2016, Rajshahi University’s English department instructor Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddique was hacked to death with machetes near his house in Shalbagan area of the district.
Names of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami-Chhatra Shibir members, and militants belonging to the banned outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) repeatedly came up during the investigations into the murders of Rajshahi University faculty members.
Jamaat and Shibir members were also accused of the murder of Professor Humayun Azad.
Recently, Prof Zafar Iqbal expressed his anger over ragging at Shahjalal University.
Regarding the punishment of five students over ragging, he had said: “I beg forgiveness from the nation that the students of my university can do such a thing.
"The punishment given to them is indeed very insignificant. The offenders should have been handed over to police and tried under the law of the land,” he said on Friday.
Also read- Attack on Zafar Iqbal: No country for the outspoken
Faizur, Prof Zafar Iqbal’s attacker, was a resident of Sylhet city’s Shahartali area in Sheikhpara, which is close to the Shahjalal University campus.
His father is a madrasa teacher from Dhirai, Sunamganj, said Jalalabad police Officer-in-Charge Shafiqul Islam on Saturday night.
Faizul is a hawker. He was a madrasa student, the OC said.
Neighbours said Faizul's family did not communicate much with the people living in the area. Faizur did not even pray at the local mosque.
Jalalabad police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Anwarul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune: “After the attack, his [Faizur’s ] family members left their residence and are currently on the run.
Sheikhpara UP member Gias Uddin, who was present with law enforcement during the drive said: “Religious books
and CDs were recovered from Faizur’s house."
Faizur's statement and the behaviour of the family members have increase the doubt about the incident being a
A police counter-terrorism team was dispatched from Dhaka to take him into custody.
Law enforcercement officials are conducting investigations to find out if the attack had any militant link.
The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit (CTTC) Deputy Commissioner Mohibul Islam Khan said: "We are conducting investigation keeping in mind that Professor Zafar Iqbal had militant threats.
"A team will go to Sylhet to interrogate the detained attacker."
This article was first published on banglatribune.com