Dhaka police on Thursday announced the arrest of a man they said participated in a machete attack on secular publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul and two writers in Dhaka on Oct. 31, 2015.
Suman Hossain Patowari, 20, one of five men suspected in the attack at Shuddhashar Publishing House, was arrested late Wednesday, Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masudur Rahman told BenarNews.
“He was produced before the court today and the court granted five-day remand,” Rahman said.
Tutul, Ranadipam Basu and Tareq Rahim survived the attack and have since fled the country or gone into hiding. Another publisher, Faisal Arefin Dipan, 43, was hacked to death at his office that day.
In mid-May, police had announced a 200,000 taka (U.S. $2,546) bounty for Patowari and five other members of the banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) who they say are responsible for the recent killings of bloggers, publishers and minority group members.
At least 36 people, including writers, LGBT activists, and members of minority communities have been killed by suspected Islamic militants in Bangladesh since February 2013.
‘The true story’
Shuddhashar, a platform for secular thinkers writing in Bengali, had published the work of Bangladeshi-American writer Avijit Roy, among others. Roy was hacked to death by in Dhaka in February 2015.
Shuddhashar co-founder Mahbub Leelen told BenarNews Thursday that Tutul, Basu and Rahim do not recognize the suspect but hope police have nabbed the right man.
“We really want to know the true story behind the killings,” Leelen said, adding that the Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility while authorities said the group had made no inroads in Bangladesh. “A lot of people have died.”
The arrest came during a massive, weeklong crackdown on militant groups and criminals that has raised concern among rights activists and opposition leaders that innocent people are being swept up in the operation.
“We have arrested 8,192 criminals including 119 suspected militants,” Police Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) A.K.M. Shahidur Rahman told BenarNews on Monday, four days after the security sweep began.
Caught while fleeing
Meanwhile, police in Madaripur town, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of Dhaka, said local people had captured a man Wednesday moments after he hacked a Hindu man at his home.
Ripon Chakraborty, a teacher at Government Nazimuddin College, survived the attack and was being treated in hospital, Mohammad Sarwar Hossain, superintendent of police in Madaripur district, told BenarNews.
“We are not sure whether Chakraborty was attacked for his faith, though the nature of the attack was similar with previous attacks in other places,” Hossain said.
“Wednesday afternoon, the three attackers entered the house of Chakraborty and hacked him. As the teacher screamed for help, local people gathered and chased the three attackers who were fleeing on a battery-run three-wheeler,” student Abdul Momen told BenarNews.
They caught Golam Faizullah Fahim while the two others fled, Momen said.
Fahim’s father, a businessman in Dhaka, notified police that his son had been missing since June 11, Hossain said.
Under interrogation, the suspect revealed that the attack had been ordered by members of banned militant group Hizbut Tahrir, who told him, “This person is an enemy of Islam. He should be killed,” Agence France-Presse reported.