A year after the Bangladeshi American blogger’s murder, a friend asks what happens when people try to ban dissent.
Dhaka, Bangladesh – The prime suspect in the 2015 murder of Bangladeshi-American writer Avijit Roy has been killed in a reported “shoot-out” with authorities in Dhaka, just a day after the death of another man in police custody.
Reports said Sharif, also known as Hadi, a member of the banned Ansarullah Bangla Team, was killed early on Sunday in the Khilgaon district of the Bangladeshi capital.
Sharif was one of the six men wanted by police in connection with Roy’s killing. Authorities had offered $6,500 reward for his capture.
Masudur Rahman, Dhaka deputy police commissioner, confirmed the killing of Sharif to Al Jazeera.
He said Sharif and two other men were passing through Khilgaon area on a motorcycle when they reportedly opened fire at police.
Police fired back and injured Sharif, who later died of his wounds early on Sunday at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, he said.
The two other people with Sharif managed to escape, Masudur said.
|Rahman says the killing raises questions about police tactics [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]|
Mashrukur Rahman Khaled, another police commissioner involved with the investigation on Sharif, told Al Jazeera that Sharif was involved in giving “training on firearms and weapons” to members of his armed group.
“He also used to coordinate the attack and usually would be somewhere near the spot of the killings,” Khaled said.
In recent weeks, police have launched a crackdown on alleged “Islamic militants”, in response to a wave of violence against atheist bloggers, liberal academics, gay-rights campaigners, foreign aid workers, and members of minority religious groups.
But human rights activists and civil society groups have criticised the police tactics in going after the suspects.
On Saturday, 19-year-old Golam Faizullah Fahim, a suspect in the attack of a mathematics teacher of Hindu faith, was killed while in police custody.
Police said Fahim was a suspected member of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), a group that wants to establish a unitary Islamic state.
Mizanur Rahman, chairman of the National Human Right Commission, said Sharif’s killing raises questions about police investigation and the rule of law in the country.
For his part, Avijit Roy’s father Ajit Roy, a former professor of physics at Dhaka University, said more information could have been extracted from Sharif had he been captured alive.
“Police and law enforcement agencies have committed the incident in connivance with each other,” he told Al Jazeera, suggesting that the firefight was “planned”.
In February 2015, the younger Roy was killed near the Dhaka University campus.
Several other bloggers and activists have also been killed since that incident.