Blogger Oyasiqur hacked to death

Mohammad Jamil Khan

Two madrasa students have been detained for their alleged involvement with the killing

Radical Islamists hacked to death secular blogger Md Oyasiqur Rahman Babu Monday morning in Tejgaon, Dhaka allegedly for his atheist views.

A travel agency executive, Oyasiqur’s murder was premeditated. Three assailants swooped on Oyasiqur, 27, armed with machetes around 9am on Dipika Mosque Lane of Begunbari, close to Tejgaon Textile Engineering University, when he was going to office in Motijheel.

While fleeing, two of the killers – Zikrullah, a student of Hefazat-e-Islam's Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong, and Ariful, student of Mirpur Darul Uloom Madrasa – were held by two transgendered persons as locals remained reluctant to chase the killers. The other member of the team, Abu Taher, escaped.

The duo was handed over to police, who later recovered the machetes from the crime scene, Tejgaon industrial police OC Salauddin said.

The incident took place only a month after secular blogger and former Buet teacher Avijit Roy and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya came under attack by extremists. Avijit succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. Police are yet to solve the case but claim that the killers might be linked to the banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir and Ansarullah Bangla Team.

Deputy Commissioner of Tejgaon zone Biplab Kumar Sarker told reporters that in preliminary interrogation the arrestees said they had killed Oyasiqur for writing on religious issues. “We are investigating whether they are involved with any organisation.”

Known as Oyasiqur Babu on Facebook where he had more than 2,600 friends, the blogger used to write under pseudonyms on popular blogs. On his Facebook account, Oyasiqur wrote several notes opposing irrational religious beliefs, superstitions and radical Islamists.

He was also an admirer of Avijit Roy. After the attack on Avijit, he changed his profile picture to the hashtag “#iamavijit” on a black background. His Facebook cover photo also displays the hashtag #WordsCannotBeKilled.

Witness Ziauddin, brother of the owner of Khokon General Store near the spot, told the Dhaka Tribune: “I heard some women screaming. Soon I along with some customers came out of the shop and found an injured person lying on the street and three attackers running towards the main road.”

Locals took Oyasiqur to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where doctors declared him dead. He had deep cuts on the eyes and left cheek, according to the inquest.

OC Salauddin said the killers hacked him mainly on the face.

The murder spot is beside the boundary wall of the Textile Engineering University. There is another building on the other side of the 10-foot lane. There are no shops close to the spot and only a few people were around at the time of murder.

Oyasiqur’s house is around 50 feet from the spot.

His cousins Helal and Shilpi told the Dhaka Tribune that he had no enemies and that they did not understand why he would be killed.

They said he had been working as a trainee at Fareast Aviation in Motijheel after graduating from Tejgaon College.

He used to write against Jamaat-e-Islami and radical Islamist groups. He was vocal against human rights violations on the religious minorities and indigenous people of the country.

Tamanna Setu, one of Oyasiqur's friends, said: “I asked him several times not to write about these issues … but he replied: 'I have no photos on my Facebook account. So they will not recognise me.'”

Oyasiqur's profile on Logical Forum

DMCH police outpost Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Md Sentu said the body was kept at the hospital morgue.

He said none has come to claim Oyasiqur's body as of 1:30pm. 

“His face has been distorted as the miscreants hacked him mainly on the face,” said OC Salauddin.

He was an admirer of another secular blogger Avijit Roy, who was killed by extremists in Dhaka one month ago.

After Avijit’s killing, Oyasiqur paid tribute to him making his Facebook profile and cover photos with the text: #iamavijit and words cannot be killed.

He was member of eight Facebook group pages including Atheist Bangladesh.

The OC said he has been murdered in the same way like blogger Rajeeb Haider.

Rajeeb, known as Thaba Baba in the blogging community, was hacked to death on February 15, 2013 near his Pallabi home.

A US-based Bangladeshi, Avijit Roy was hacked to death near the TSC roundabout on DU campus on the evening of February 26. In the same attack, Avijit’s wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya, also an active blogger, got critically injured.