Bangladesh: Hindu Man Killed As Police Launch Anti-Militant Operation

Kamran Reza Chowdhury
160610-BD-machete-attacks-620.jpg Bangladeshi police stand guard near where Hindu monastery worker Nitya Ranjan Pandey was hacked to death in Pabna district, June 10, 2016.

Hours after Bangladeshi police launched a “special drive” in which they reportedly swept up hundreds of people as they widened their crackdown on Islamic militants, suspected Muslim radicals Friday hacked to death a Hindu devotee in northwestern Pabna district, officials said.

Nitya Ranjan Pandey, 60, a staff member at the Sri Sri Thakur Aunukul Chandra Satsangha Ashram in Hemayetpur, Pabna, was the latest victim of a string of targeted killings carried out by suspected militants since 2013, police said.

According to witnesses, Pandey was attacked by machete-wielding assailants while out for his early-morning walk, police said.

“Pandey was killed between 4:45 and 5 a.m. The killers hacked him on the shoulder and head, and he died on the spot,” Sheikh Mohammad Selim, an assistant superintendent of police in Pabna, told BenarNews.

He said a police team was searching for the killers.

“No arrest is made yet, but hopefully we will catch them,” he said.

Pabna Police Superintendent Alamgir Kabir told reporters that radical Islamists were suspected of carrying out the attack, according to the Associated Press.

Pandey had worked at the monastery for about 40 years, said Ruhul Amin, a resident of Hemayetpur, which is about 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Dhaka.

“He had been a diabetic patient; he walked in the morning every day. [H]is morning walk brought his death – we are so sorry. He had been very friendly to the local people,” Amin told BenarNews.

Since February 2013, at least 36 people including members of religious minority groups, secular bloggers, intellectuals and other have been killed, mostly in machete-attacks by suspected Islamic militants, according to the Home Ministry.

Relations between Bangladesh’s majority moderate Muslims and minority Hindus have traditionally been peaceful, but Pandey was the second Hindu killed in three days in the country by suspected Islamic militants, according to authorities.

Police launch drive against militants

Friday’s killing came after Inspector General of Police A.K.M. Shahidul Haque announced that police were launching a special seven-day drive against militants and criminals.

On Friday, the first day of the operation, police hauled in as many as 1,000 suspects, Dhaka’s Channel 24 reported.

The special operation followed the killings this week of five suspected members of banned militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in a series of raids by the police’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

Those raids appear to have been triggered by the killing in Chittagong on Sunday of Mahmuda Aktar, the wife of a top counter-terror police official, in Chittagong.

Authorities said they suspected that JMB operatives targeted her in retaliation for anti-JMB operations led by her husband.

Similar crackdowns had previously led to the arrests of 18,000 people, according to media reports, but were not without controversy.

“In the past, the government arrested thousands of opposition leaders on the pretext of crackdowns on the militants. This special drive is also aimed at suppressing the opposition,” Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, general secretary of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, told BenarNews.

But others voiced support for the new efforts by Bangladeshi law enforcers.

“We welcome the special drive against the militants. We want protection. We also hope that the drive must not be showy,” Dr Nimchandra Bhowmik told a rally in Dhaka organized by the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, an association representing Bangladesh’s religious minorities.


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