- The murder occurred 10 weeks after Bangladeshi American Avijit Roy was hacked to death for his often critical views on religious extremism.
Almost seven years after he was brutally murdered in his native Bangladesh, the family of blogger and writer Ananta Bijoy Das has gotten justice. Four men were sentenced to death for the 2015 killing, a special tribunal in eastern Bangladesh announced today, according to The New York Times.
Das, 32, a banker by profession wrote for the platform Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), a website once moderated by Avijit Roy, another Bangladeshi American, who was himself hacked to death in February, 10 weeks before Das. Roy was visiting his native country when he was murdered in February 2015 for his often critical views on religious extremism. Roy, 42, and his wife, Rafida Ahmed, also a blogger, were returning home from a book fair in Dhaka on Feb. 26, 2015, when they were attacked. Ahmed was seriously injured.
Das was chased down in the eastern city of Sylhet by four men, who stabbed him to death on a street close to his home and left his body near a pond, The New York Times said.
“We are happy with the verdict,” Somor Bijoy Shee Shakhor, Das’ brother-in-law, told The New York Times. “We cannot get Ananta back. The only thing we want is justice.”
However, Roy and Das were not the only bloggers and writers fatally attacked that year. Five weeks after Roy’s death, another blogger, Oyasiqur Rahman, was killed by three men with machetes in Dhaka, The Times said. Later that year, Faisal Arefin Dipan, Roy’s publisher, was killed by a group of assailants in his Dhaka office.
“The killings sent a chilling message to secular bloggers in Bangladesh, where a bitter cultural battle has raged over whether the country is, or should be, a Muslim state,” noted The New York Times.
A militant group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, claimed responsibility for the deaths of Das, Dipan and Roy. The group was banned in May 2015. According to the BBC, the tribunal in Mr. Das’s murder said that his killers had believed they were acting as part of a “jihad” to stop the writers from producing anything that the group interpreted as being against Islamic beliefs.
On Feb. 10, 2021, an anti-terrorism special tribunal in Dhaka sentenced eight to death for killing Dipan. Six days later, the tribunal sentenced five more people to death and another person to life imprisonment for the killing of Roy. A verdict in the trial of those accused of killing Rahman has not yet been released.