Government failure, Joy's remarks encouraged radicals: Zafar Iqbal

Popular teacher-writer Muhammed Zafar Iqbal says the government has failed to rein in Islamist radicals and that Sajeeb Ahmed Wajed Joy's recent remarks have encouraged them all the more.

Published : 13 May 2015, 01:15 PM
Updated : 13 May 2015, 07:45 PM

On Wednesday, Iqbal addressed a 'human chain' event at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), a day after masked radicals hacked to death secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das. 
"The statement issued by prime minister's son Joy over the blogger's death will be treated as a signal by the fundamentalists," said Iqbal.
"Joy's statement seems to give the impression that murder after murder will continue and the government will do nothing, say nothing," he said.
Joy had told Reuters after blogger Avijit Roy's murder that the 'issues are too sensitive for his mother (Hasina) to speak up in public'.
"So she had conveyed the same to Avijit's father Professor Ajoy Roy in person," Joy had said while reacting to Avijit's wife Rafida Ahmed Bonya's allegations that the government was not doing enough to bring the culprits to justice.
Avijit was the founder of the progressive blog site ' Mukto-Mona', where murdered Sylhet blogger Ananta Bijoy Das used to contribute regularly.
Joy said about Avijit's being a declared atheist -- "We in the Awami League don’t want to be identified as atheist or non-believers. But that does not mean we are deviating from our basic stand of secularism."
Zafar Iqbal furiously disagreed with Joy.
"In this country everyone has right to life and a murder cannot be written off and brushed aside on grounds that it is sensitive."
Ananta Bijoy Das is the fourth progressive blogger to have been murdered in the last two years. Ahmed Rajib Haider, US-based Avijit Roy and Oyasiqur Rahman Babu were all hacked to death like Ananta Bijoy Das since February 2013. Avijit was murdered as he left the Amar Ekushe Book Fair premises in February with his wife Bonya.
Bonya lost a finger trying to defend her husband.
Within days of Avijit's murder, progressive blogger Oyasiqur Rahman Babu was killed in identical fashion and now in another 45 days, Ananta Bijoy Das has been killed in Sylhet.
Police has failed to nab the killers of Avijit . Two madrasa students were caught by pedestrians after Oyasiqur's murder but progress in the case has been slow.
Police have also failed to nab the culprits in few other murder cases involving the killing of progressive activists since the beginning of the Ganajagaran movement in February 2013.
Rajib Haider was killed immediately after the movement began.
Ganajagaran leader Imran H Sarker has also blamed the government's failure to defend freethinkers and said that has encouraged the fundamentalists to step up the ante.
On Wednesday, Zafar Iqbal sounded similar.
"You have started this movement against fundamentalism and it is a very good thing. But don’t expect any support from this government," he warned the SUST students during the 'human chain ' event.
Iqbal sounded bitter when he said -- "You will be killed for speaking the truth. We will all be killed for speaking the truth and the government will do nothing. We have to defend ourselves."
"I don’t believe the killers cannot be nabbed by the administration. It does not seem to be trying enough. This is their failure."
Many other SUST teachers addressed the ' human chain' event at SUST.
A half day strike, called by the Ganajagaran Mancha, was also observed in Sylhet to protest against the murder of Ananta Bijoy Das.

Our Dhaka University Correspondent adds: 
Under the banner of an alternative students forum, a huge protest was organised to protest remarks against Zafar Iqbal by Sylhet-3 MP Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury.
Chowdhury, who is a syndicate member of the SUST and an Awami League lawmaker, had said he would like to whip Zafar Iqbal in public.
He had blamed Zafar Iqbal, a popular teacher and writer, as a 'Sylhet-basher' and 'someone who hates Sylhet'.
"If I had my way, I would have dragged Iqbal to Court Point (a prominent intersection in Sylhet) and whiplashed him," Chowdhury had said of Iqbal.
Students burned Chowdhury's effigy near the TSC intersection on Wednesday and raised the demand that the lawmaker should be declared as 'undesirable by the entire student community.'