Unidentified attackers hacked to death a university teacher in northwestern Bangladesh on Saturday, amid growing concerns at home and abroad about the confrontation between Islamist hardliners and secularists in the country.
AFM Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor , was attacked in the morning when he was walking for a bus near his home to get to Rajshahi University, where he worked, Sushanta Chandra Roy, assistant commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said over phone.
He said the killing has similarities with recent murders of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, adding that some witnesses told them that the attack was carried out by two young men riding a motorbike.
The official said the attackers used sharp weapons, and fled the scene immediately.
‘Wrote poems, short stories’
Siddique’s family said they had no idea whether he faced any threat or was concerned about his life.
The professor used to play Tanpura and led a cultural group and edited a literally magazine, his brother Sajidul Karim Siddique.
“It’s a mystery to us, I can’t believe someone can kill such a simple man,” Siddique told Hindustan Times by phone.
Asked whether he suspected any radical groups, he said his brother was never outspoken about any ideology that could hurt anybody.
“He used to write poems and short stories,” he said.
Protesting Siddique’s killing, his colleagues and students marched through the Rajshahi University campus while angry students blocked a highway demanding justice.
Global rights group Amnesty International in a statement condemned the killing and said the responsible must be brought to justice.
“The vicious killing of Rezaul Karim Siddique is inexcusable and those responsible must be held to account. This attack sadly fits the gruesome pattern established by Islamist extremist groups in Bangladesh who are targeting secular activists and writers,” Amnesty South Asia Director Champa Patel said in a statement.
“The authorities must do more to put an end to these killings. Not a single person has been brought to justice for the attacks over the past year,” Patel said.
Police said an autopsy has been conducted and the body was handed over to the family for burial, expected to take place on Saturday night.
“We are preparing for his burial,” his cousin Nazrul Islam said. “This is a difficult time for us. Please pray for us.”
Since last year, a number of atheist bloggers, activists and publishers had been attacked and killed allegedly by Islamist groups.
Since 2006, three other teachers of the same university have been killed. Police have blamed radical Islamist groups for those killings. One of the slain teachers was a follower of mystic poet and lyricist Lalon.
Attacks also took place against foreigners and minority Shia, Ahmadiya and Hindu communities. Many Christian priests have reported that they have been threatened by unidentified people.
Some of the attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government claimed that this group has no base in Bangladesh.