Justice yet to catch up with Avijit Roy’s killers
DOT Desk: Four years after the grisly murder of online activist Avijit Roy, the trial is yet to kick-off with investigators finalizing the chargesheet only earlier this month, reports Dhaka Tribune.
Six activists of a radical Islamist outfit have been accused by investigators over the 2015 killing at the heart of the Dhaka University campus.
A naturalized US citizen and IT professional, Avijit was the founder of ‘Mukto-mona’, a website of Bangladeshi freethinkers.
On the evening of Feb 26, 2015, machete-wielding assailants attacked Avijit and his wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya near the TSC after they were returning home from the Ekushey Book Fair.
He died at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital two hours after the attack. Bonya survived but the fingers of her left hand were severed.
Avijit had earlier received death threats from religious zealots who were on the police radar.
His father, noted physicist Ajay Roy started a case with the police soon after the incident.
“It took four years to complete the investigation. We want the trial to take off soon,” he told Bangla Tribune on Tuesday (Feb 26).
Avijit’s murder was first filed under the Penal Code but it was later filed under the Anti-Terrorism Act after the involvement of radical group Ansarullah Bangla Team was discovered.
On Feb 18 this year, the Dhaka metro police’s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit said all of the six people charged with the murder belonged to the outfit.
The group came into focus following the 2013 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider. Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani, who heads the organisation, has been in jail since being convicted of the murder.
Bangladesh government banned the outfit in 2015. Ansarullah members then began regrouping under a new banner of ‘Ansar al-Islam’, according to investigators.
In 2017, Bangladesh banned all activities of the Ansar al-Islam.
Investigators say that sacked army major Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque, one of the main suspects behind a foiled coup in 2012, is one of the bigwigs of the organization.
He is one of the six people charged over the killing of Avijit.
The five others are Md Mozzammel Hossain aka Simon aka Shahriar, Md Abu Siddiq Sohel aka Sakib aka Sajid aka Shahab, Md Arafat Rahman aka Siam aka Sajjad aka Shams, Akram Hossain aka Abir aka Adnan aka Hasibul aka Abdullah and Safiur Rahman Farabi.
Among them former army officer Zia and Akram are on the run while the rest are in police custody.
“We completed the probe and have sent the charge sheet to the home ministry for approval,” Deputy Commissioner Mahibul Islam of the counter terror unit told Bangla Tribune.
“We can file the charge sheet in court as soon as the ministry clears it,” he added.
Although six people have been charged, investigators found that a total of 11 people were connected with the murder.
Deputy Insector General Md Monirul Islam, who heads the counter terror unit, said that the rest of the five have not been identified and they will be charged once they are caught.
According to people familiar with the investigation, Islamist zealots killed Avijit for his writings and opinions.
“The Ansar Al Islam team provided major Zia with information on Avijit,” Monirul said. “Two groups worked — one was in charge of collecting intel and the other executing the murder.”
Avijit was being watched since Feb 20 by his assailants before they attacked him on Feb 26 on the Dhaka University campus, according to the top counter terror officer.