Protestors in Dhaka called Tuesday for Bangladesh’s home minister to resign after he described the killing of a publisher and the wounding of three other people in a pair of weekend attacks as “isolated incidents.”
"Don’t say this. Better you acknowledge your failure and resign from you post," Fariduddin Ahmed, president of the Dhaka University teachers’ association, told a rally at the campus, referring to on-the-record comments made by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
The rally, where demonstrators formed a human chain, was among multiple protests that have unfolded in the wake of attacks in Dhaka on Saturday that targeted two publishers of slain secular blogger Avijit Roy. At one of multiple rallies on Tuesday, protestors burned an effigy of the home minister, Agence France-Presse reported.
One of the publishers, Faisal Arefin Dipan, was killed while the other, Ahmedur Rashi Tutul, was seriously injured along with two bloggers – Ranadipam Basu and Tareq Rahim – in a separate attack.
‘Impossible to stop’: Police official
The attacks followed the killings of four secular bloggers, including Roy, by suspected Islamists earlier this year.
Police have made no arrests in the latest attacks, but they suspect that the banned militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) carried these out as well as the other murders.
However, Ansar ul-Islam, a Bangladeshi affiliate of al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-Continent (AQIS), claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks via messages posted on Twitter, news reports said.
The protestors also were demonstrating against alleged inaction of authorities in preventing such attacks, and in bringing to justice the people who perpetrated killings clearly aimed at silencing atheists in Bangladesh, a 44-year-old nation with a secular constitution.
"We aren’t able to know before any killing [is committed] who is going to be killed, so it is impossible to stop any targeted killings," Dhaka Metropolitan Police Joint Commissioner Monirul Islam told reporters.
While briefing reporters on Tuesday, Khan reiterated his claim that the weekend attacks were “isolated incidents,” The Daily Star newspaper quoted the minister as saying.
“The law and order [situation] is quite fine. Such stray incidents take place in even many developed countries like the U.S. and others. The killings do not mean that the law and order has collapsed,” he had told BenarNews earlier, referring to Saturday’s attacks as well as other recent attacks, including the murders of two foreigners in separate shootings.
Ajoy Roy, the father of Avijit Roy, suggested that such statements from senior Bangladeshi law enforcement officials could only encourage Islamists to kill more non-believers.
"If the home minister and police say we can't stop then, killers will be inspired to keep going on. Even if you [can’t] stop them, you should not say that publicly," Roy told BenarNews.
‘The savior of Islamists’
Meanwhile, the names of 14 bloggers and secular writers have appeared on a new list of targets posted on Facebook by ABT, the Dhaka Tribune reported on Tuesday. The 14 include people who live abroad, such as writer Taslima Nasreen, who fled to the United States earlier this year from exile in India, reportedly out of fear that Islamists were targeting her.
“Islamic killer group Ansarullah Bangla Team made a new hit list,” Nasreen said via Twitter on Tuesday. “My name is on the top of the list.”
On Saturday, after news broke about the attacks on the publishers, Nasreen took a shot at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“Hasina is the savior of Islamists. She is an Islamist,” the writer tweeted. “Wants to rule B’desh with spirit of Medina Charter. She took no action against killers!”
The prime minister, for her part, has accused her bitter rival, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia, of being behind the attacks that targeted the publishers, writers and foreigners, according to a report published Monday in the Daily Star.
“The BNP leader has now engaged in a killing mission …,” the newspaper quoted Hasina as saying.
“After tarnishing the country’s image by killing foreigners, she has now engaged in assassinations,” the PM said.