ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tolerating Death in a Culture of Intolerance

The daylight murder of Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy in Dhaka on 26 February reflects the culture of fear and intolerance that has built up in the country over the last few decades. As a result, the middle ground between the extremes has disappeared.

Returning home with your wife, from a book fair where you have been signing autographs, seems a peaceful enough activity. It was in the heart of the university area, and it was not late. The footpath next to Ramna Park, where the 1971 surrender document had been signed, was full of people. Shahbagh Police Thana was nearby, and a police barricade designed to keep visitors to the mela safe, was only a few yards away. Hardly the scene crime stories are made of.

On Thursday the 26 February 2015, days before the Ekushey Boi Mela (book fair) was ending, Avijit Roy, founder of the popular blog Mukto Mona (free thinker) and his blogger wife Rafida Ahmed Bonna, had been to the fair where they had autographed books. They were returning home at around 9:30 pm in a cycle rickshaw, a common mode of transport in Dhaka. The couple had only just left the fair, when attackers emerged from the crowd, dragged them out of the rickshaw, hacked them with machetes and disappeared into the crowd again, leaving the bloodied murder instruments on the pavement. It happened near the Shahid Raju sculpture outside the Teachers– Students Centre (TSC) of Dhaka University. The doctors at nearby Dhaka Medical College pronounced Avijit dead about an hour later. Bonna was seriously injured and lost a finger. The police recovered the bloodied machetes and the missing part of the finger at the site.

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