The father of slain Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy says that a suspected militant shot dead by police over the weekend was one of the men who killed his son.
“I do not have any doubt that the person killed in the shootout was Sharif, one of the killers of Avijit,” Ajoy Roy told BenarNews on Monday, referring to a man identified as a member of the banned militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and who was killed in Dhaka on Sunday.
Sharif was one of three men who took part in a machete-attack that killed his son Avijit and gravely injured his daughter-in-law, Rafida Bonya Ahmed, as the couple was leaving the Ekushey Book Fair in Dhaka on the night of Feb. 26, 2015, Ajoy Roy said. His son was one of seven secular bloggers killed by suspected religious zealots since February 2013.
Police had informed him of the identities of the three suspects “at least a year ago” but had not publicized this information, Ajoy Roy said during an interview at his apartment in Dhaka.
The suspect Sharif was killed after three motorcyclists shot at detectives on Sunday morning in the Meradia area of Dhaka, Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesman Masudur Rahman told BenarNews.
“The police counter fired. Two of them fled while one of them was killed in the shootout. We are sure he is Avijit’s killer, Sharif. We had announced 500,000 takas [U.S. $6,371] as a bounty on him,” said Rahman, adding that Sharif had used several aliases.
The notice for the bounty claimed that Sharif had participated directly in the killings of blogger Niladri Chottopaddhya and Riyad Morshed Babu, a student at Shanto-Marium University of Creative Technology in Dhaka.
The notice identified Sharif – also known as Shariful, Hadi and Sakib – as the planner of the killings of gay-rights activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan and secular bloggers Washiqur Rahman and Nazimuddin Samad. Sharid also took part in a non-fatal attack on publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, the notice said.
‘We have come to take the body’
“The police had their identities, their parents’ identities, their photos, their DNA profiles at least one year ago, but police did not disclose these for the sake of investigation,” Ajoy said. “Police refrained from publicizing the information as they could not catch them.”
He said he learned these details when he went to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to verify reports that police had identified Avijit’s killers.
“I asked one of the CID officials, ‘Do you know how many persons killed Avijit?’ He replied ‘Sir, specifically there were three – two of them were killers and the other was the communicator; two persons hacked [him] with machetes and the other gave them instructions on Avijit’s movement over a mobile phone.’”
During the hours leading up to and immediately after the killing, his son’s killers were communicating with their religious leader over the phone. The leader was in charge of the ABT’s information technology wing, Ajoy Roy said.
Meanwhile, Sharif’s brother-in-law, Hedayetul Islam, told reporters in Dhaka that Sharif hailed from Satkhira, a district in southwestern Bangladesh, and that his original name was Mukul Rana. Sharif’s relatives did not know that he was a member of ABT and that he had taken part in the killing of Avijit Roy, Islam said.
“We have come to take the body as we saw his corpse on TV,” he said.