23rd April 2016, Saturday, 7:30am – another one of the world’s progressive intellectuals lost.
Professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, 58, of Rajshahi University, Bangalore, was ruthlessly murdered while he was walking to the university campus from his home. He was attacked with machetes and bore several hacks to the back of his neck which resulted in his demise.
He was an English Literature Professor who was strongly involved in cultural activities and admired for his modern and revolutionary outlooks. Shockingly, three other professors of Rajshahi University have also been allegedly murdered by Islamist militants in the recent years, including teacher AKM Shafiul Islam.
Enraged students and teachers of the university later went on a protest on the campus demanding immediate arrest of the culprits.
Earlier this morning (Sunday, 24 April 2016) Hafizur Rahman was detained over the murder, a student of the university’s Public Administration department and an alleged activist of Islami Chhatra Shibir.
Bangladesh has been victim to organized assaults in the past few months. These assaults have been attacking secular and atheist bloggers, minorities and intellectuals. All of these vehement acts have been allegedly sparked by radical Islamic forces who oppose the progressive perspectives of such opinion leaders and intellects.
The demise of Professor AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee surely rings a bell. Other prominent figures such as Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare have also lost their lives due to issues pertaining to religious loyalty.
In late 2013, Narendra Dabholkar was killed for proposing the Anti-Black Magic Act and working towards empowering the marginalized sections of society.
Govind Pansare was murdered in a similar manner in late 2015 for supporting Dabholkar’s Anti-Black Magic Act and advocating inter-caste marriages as well as protesting against the preference given to male children.
Instances such as these send shivers down our spines and remind us of the faction of people in the world who so rigidly defend their beliefs. Although religion is a beautiful belief, the ugly side of extremism inevitably raises its head from time to time.
The saddest part about this is that in this tassel, it is often individuals who have the drive to bring about a positive change in society that become the target of such cruelty. It is the fear of change that motivates such acts. Authorities have been trying to apprehend the culprits of these murders but the fact remains that such communities still exist in the world. Not only are they threatening our freedom of speech but also hampering societal development.
If nothing, as citizens of the world, we need to learn how to co-exist and adapt to positive changes, eliminating things that are derogatory to our people. The demise of countless intellectuals should serve as a testament that humanity will triumph and continue to inspire many others who wish to positively contribute to society.