Even as a group of fundamentalists in Bangladesh hacked a young atheist blogger, Washiqur Rahman, to death on Monday, a headmaster of a government-aided madrasa in Kolkata returned home from a private hospital where he was admitted with a 2.5-inch deep wound on his head.
Both of them came under attack for the same reason — allegedly for hurting religious sentiments. Kazi Masum Akhtar, the headmaster of Talpukur Ara High Madrasa, was beaten up in front of the police by a mob led by local fundamentalists on March 26 for allegedly making remarks against a particular religion.
“They labeled baseless charges against me. I am a devout Muslim and offer namaaz every day. My son studies in an English-medium school but reads the Quran as well. At my home, you will find the Quran, the Vedas and books by Ramakrishna,” Akhtar told HT on Wednesday.
“It is a very dangerous trend when fundamentalists - belonging to any religion - start increasing their influence,” Mahmudul Haque Munshi, a Bangladeshi blogger who is in the hit-list of fundamentalists, told HT in context of the attack on Akhtar.
Akhtar has lodged a complaint at Rajabagan police station against the persons who attacked him. “But the police refused to include the charge of attempt to murder despite my insistence,” Akhtar said. He plans to approach chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The allegation against Akhtar was that he made comments against a particular religion while teaching in class 10.
“We will resist and oppose all forms of religious fundamentalism. We plan to organise a rally to the state secretariat, Nabanna, demanding stringent action against those who attacked him,” said Faruque Ahmed, a member of rights forum, Aakranto Aamra (We the Victims).
“We have assured him of all assistance,” said Ranjit Sur who is attached with the Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights.
But the hardliners argued that he had no right to comment on religion.
“They accused me of trying to be like Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin. But this is not true,” said Akhtar who is a regular contributor in some Bengali newspapers.
Before beating him up last Thursday, the hardliners also slammed him for a post-Khagragarh blast article in a local newspaper in which he made comments against madrasas.
“They said I insulted (my) religion when I said madrasas should be destroyed. But I did not,” Akhtar said.