Another Free Thinker Killed: Bangladeshi Writer And Publisher Shahzahan Bachchu Shot Dead
Five unidentified assailants shot dead, a 60-year-old Bangladeshi veteran writer and publisher Shahzahan Bachchu in Munshiganj district, Bangladesh.
He was dragged out of a shop before he was gunned down in his ancestral village in Kakaldi, reports Dhaka Tribune.
The owner of Bishaka Prokashoni, a publishing house, Shahzahan Bachchu, was an outspoken person of adherent secular principles and a poet.
The victim had gone to meet his friends at a pharmacy near his house before Iftar when five men arrived on two motorcycles. The attackers threw a crude bomb outside the pharmacy and created panic among the people, they then dragged Mr. Bachchu out and shot him dead, reports Dhaka Tribune.
According to some news reports, Mr. Bachchu died instantly. Although no group has claimed responsibility, police officials from the counter-terrorism department are investigating the murder as a possible targeted attack by Islamist extremists. Bachchu had previously received threats from extremist groups due to his outspoken support for secularism.
He was a former district general secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh and was known as a free-thinking writer. His publishing house is based in Dhaka’s Banglabazar area.
“The shocking news today of Shahzahan Bachchu’s murder is a grim reminder that the severe threat to individuals who express dissident views in Bangladesh remains unacceptably high,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN AMERICA.
Tasleema Nasreen, Bangladeshi author and former physician, who has been living in exile since 1994, also tweeted her views.
Shahzahan Bacchu, an atheist poet and publisher was killed today by Islamists in Bangladesh. He was a target, but did not get protection from govt.
— taslima nasreen (@taslimanasreen) June 11, 2018
This is not an isolated incident
Shahzahan Bachchu’s murder is part of a highly disturbing trend.
In August 2015, Niloy Neel, a Bangladeshi blogger with atheist views, was brutally hacked to death by a group of five or six men armed with machetes in his apartment in the capital of Dhaka.
In May 2015, Ananta Bijoy Das, 32, was hacked to death with cleavers and machetes as he left his home on his way to work at a bank.
In March 2015, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was hacked to death by two men with knives and meat cleavers just outside his house as he headed to work at a travel agency in Dhaka.
A month earlier, Roy, a Bangladesh-born American blogger, was similarly killed with machetes and knives as he walked back from a book fair in Dhaka.
Bangladesh is an officially secular country but more than 90% of its 160 million population are Muslims. The critics say the government is indifferent to the killing of rationalists – pointing out that no-one has yet been punished for any of the attacks. There has been an increase in attacks by religious extremists in recent years. Intolerance is growing as the country’s politics increasingly diverge into secular and non-secular poles.
Freedom of the media is being cruelly choked, and if this continues unchecked, the death of democracy could well be on its way in Bangladesh.
The Logical Indian strongly supports the right of common citizens to voice out their opinions. We urge our friends in Bangladesh to not allow their voices to die, and also hope that our government will take a stand on this issue and use every channel possible to push the Bangladeshi government to ensure no more such rationalists are killed. India stands to gain if our neighbors thrive as successful democracies.