Secular activist murdered in Dhaka

26-year-old Nazimuddin Samad is the sixth activist to be killed in the last 15 months in Bangladesh.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:26 pm IST

Published - April 08, 2016 12:57 am IST - DHAKA:

Bangladeshi students in Dhaka demonstrate, seeking arrest of Nazimuddin Samad's killers.

Bangladeshi students in Dhaka demonstrate, seeking arrest of Nazimuddin Samad's killers.

A Bangladeshi law student, who posted against religious extremism on his Facebook page, was murdered in Dhaka on Wednesday, the latest in a series of killings of secular activists and bloggers in the country.

The victim, Nazimuddin Samad (26), had described himself in his Facebook profile as the ‘information and research affairs secretary’ of the pro-government group ‘Bangabandhu Jatiya Juba Parishad’ in the northern district of Sylhet.

Police said the attackers followed Samad on Wednesday as he was returning home from an evening class at the Jagannath University, where he was a law student. They then attacked him on a busy road near the college.

Local newspaper reports said the injuries bore similarities to those found on bloggers killed last year. However, the police are yet to confirm whether Islamist radicals were behind the murder.

“They hacked his head with a machete. As he fell down, one of them shot him in the head with a pistol from close range. He died on the spot”, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Syed Nurul Islam told AFP.

Lack of action

Samad’s friends wrote on his Facebook wall that the assailants shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ just before the attack. In the section for ‘religious views’ in his profile, he wrote: “I have no religion”. He had also written a post in protest against the recent ‘rape and murder’ of a student from the Comilla Victoria college. Jagannath University students staged a protest on the campus on Thursday.

At least five writers, bloggers and publishers have been killed in Bangladesh since February 2015; three have survived attacks and several others have been threatened by religious extremists. The police have nabbed several suspected assailants and lodged cases against some. Secular activists, however, have expressed dissatisfaction over what they see as a failure to take stringent action. No one has yet been prosecuted for these murders, though police have arrested members of a banned group called the Ansarullah Bangla Team.

Imran Sarker, who leads Bangladesh’s largest online secular activist group, said Samad’s name was on a list of 84 atheist campaigners that a hard-line Islamist group had sent to the home ministry in 2013. Samad had joined nationwide protests that year against top Islamist leaders accused of committing war crimes during the country’s war of independence.

Rights group Amnesty International said Samad’s killing was a “blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression”, urging Bangladesh to take action. In a statement issued from New York, PEN America condemned the killing. It “appears to be another targeted attack by Islamist militants on those who express dissident viewpoints”, the statement said. Karin Deutsch Karlekar, a director at PEN America, urged the police “to do everything in their power to investigate and prosecute this vicious attack on free speech and thought, and halt this terrible pattern of murders”.

( With inputs from AFP )

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