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Blogger plea that cops ignored

Niloy

Aug. 8: Three months ago, slain Bangladeshi blogger Niladri Chattopadhyay Niloy had described being followed into a Dhaka alley before giving his pursuers the slip, and accused police of refusing to accept his complaint.

"I was being followed by two young men day before yesterday," the 40-year-old, who was hacked to death in his Dhaka flat yesterday for criticising religious extremism, wrote on Facebook on May 15.

The reference was to his ride back from a protest against the murder of Ananta Bijoy Das, one of four bloggers murdered with machetes in Bangladesh this year for their pro-secularism campaigns.

Niloy, who had adopted the pseudonym Niloy Neel, wrote that the same day, the police refused to lodge a general diary complaint and asked him to flee the country.

"They didn't take the GD. They said, 'It's not within our purview. Contact that police station that has the jurisdiction and leave the country as soon as possible'," he wrote.

Niloy, who had been receiving threats, showed Calcutta as his place of residence on his Facebook page hoping to throw any would-be assailants off track.

The police have now registered a murder case against four unnamed accused on the basis of a complaint by Niloy's wife Ashamoni, a witness. The cops have named no outfit although the Ansar-Al-Islam, the Bangladeshi chapter of al Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, has claimed responsibility.

In an email to the media this afternoon, Ansar said Niloy had been killed for blasphemy and warned his fellow travellers of similar consequences.

A small group of students, activists and writers marched in protest at the murder in Dhaka today but the expressions of defiance were largely confined to cyberspace.

Thousands expressed their grief, anger and sense of helplessness on Niloy's Facebook page and his blog Istishon (railway station).

"Sorry bhaiya... tumi jonmechile bhul shomoy, bhul manushder majhe (Sorry brother, you were born at the wrong time, among the wrong people)," Niaz Morshed, a Dhaka University ex-student, wrote.

" Nijeke khub choto mone hoche, tomar moton ek ujjwal nakhatra ke jaliye rakhte parini (I feel small because we couldn't keep a bright star like you burning)," posted a Chittagong-based businessman.

Forensic reports released by the police said Niloy had suffered 12 wounds from sharp weapons, including eight deep gashes in the neck.

"The machete was used repeatedly to ensure he died," the forensic chief at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, Habibuzzaman Chowdhury, said over the phone.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was quoted as saying her government would not allow terrorism in the name of religion. "At least our government is not sitting idle.... We are trying to check those with an iron hand," she said. 

The US-based Center for Inquiry (CFI), known for criticising religious dogmatism, blamed Dhaka for letting "a human rights crisis (spin) entirely out of control".

The UN deplored the killing and urged "speedy" investigation and justice, as well as protection of activists and writers who are potential targets. The US state department condemned the "cowardly murder".

On the ground, the sense of helplessness seemed to dominate. "Niloy, I've drawn some meaningless tears on your wall," posted blogger Anwar Hussain.

 


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