Dismayed over the sluggish progress in secular writer Avijit Roy murder probe, his wife secular blogger Rafida Ahmed Bonya has called upon the government to pursue a thorough investigation.
“March 26 marks one month from the date my husband, Avijit Roy, and I were brutally attacked on the Dhaka University campus during the book fair…March 26 is also Bangladesh’s Independence Day – a day that commemorates the founding of a country that was based on secular laws with freedom for all.
“Instead, it saddens us that we have to spend today begging for justice against the atrocious deeds of religious fanatics,” Bonya, who was flown back to the US after treatment, said in a statement on Thursday.
She said Avijit wrote about science and humanity, and he critiqued religious fundamentalism. He also created the first online Bengali platform for freethinking named Mukto-Mona. For these reasons, religious extremists hacked Avijit to death with machetes, she added.
The attack occurred in a crowded place with dozens of eyewitnesses, surveillance cameras, and police checkpoints. An Islamist terrorist group “Ansarullah Bangla 7” even claimed responsibility on social media for the attack.
“Despite all these leads, the only progress that has been made after one month of investigation is a seemingly a tangential arrest. And although the international community has offered help with the investigation, we have yet to see the Bangladeshi government condemning Avijit’s gruesome murder.
“It surprises us to see that the Bangladeshi government has not mentioned a word about this since the day of the murder.”
This is alarming on many levels, Bonya says.
“Where are the leaders of Ansarullah Bangla 7? Why have they not been arrested or questioned?
“Similar attacks on secular writers have happened before. This turning of a blind eye feeds both the public’s sense of cynicism and the terrorists' sense of invincibility.”
Urging the Bangladesh government to address religious terrorism at its root, Bonya said the legal culture of impunity, where writers can be killed without the killers being brought to trial, should be stopped.
“As Avijit’s wife, fellow writer, and a freethinker, I reiterate my condemnation of this attack and urge the Bangladeshi government to speak up and pursue a thorough investigation,” reads the statement.
The Rapid Action Battalion arrested banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Shafiur Rahman Farabi on March 2 for his alleged involvement in the attack on Avijit and Bonya on February 26. After his arrest, Farabi denied his involvement, but mentioned that the science writer had got what he deserved for mocking religion. Elite force RAB claimed that they had proof of Farabi’s involvement with the killing.
Farabi was first remanded in the case for 10 days. But he was later shown arrested in two other cases and remanded in three phases.
The DB police, investigating the case together with the FBI, has not found any clue about Farabi’s involvement. But officials said Farabi through Facebook posts and blogs instigated others to kill Avijit.
According to the DB police, Ansarullah Bangla Team leader Redwanul Azad Rana was the mastermind behind Avijit murder plan and execution. The Dhaka Metropolitan Police has declared Tk5 lakh bounty for his arrest while the DB police issued letters to the Immigration Police and port authorities so that Rana could not leave the country.
Former North South University student Rana is also accused of killing blogger-architect Ahmed Rajeeb Haider on February 15, 2013. Ansarullah chief Jasim Uddin Rahmani and seven other expelled NSU students including Rana were indicted in the case last week.