Are you sure you’re not the next target?

No one is safe from the machete of the blogger murderers
The killing of bloggers has now become a common thing. At first, everyone had been vocal against these killings, but with time, these voices have faded. The outburst of fiery anger that followed Rajeeb’s murder had become a thin ray by the time Niloy was killed. Concerns about personal safety have taken the front seat.

Has the series of murders been preventing people from thinking about protests? Because there have been no trials, are they thinking about ensuring their own security? How can that be done? Either by leaving the country or by keeping mum.

The middle-income status has meant we have entered that life in which we earn more, spend more, eat at expensive restaurants, and can afford holidays. The children are very gentle; they do not ask problematic questions. This unbearable gloom will be over someday. Because of our habit of remaining silent, none of our future generations will ever know that, once, there was a time when people had spoken freely and they had been killed just because they had raised questions. And none of those killings were ever tried in court.

As a result, every morning, these days, we wake up to the news of people leaving the country. They could not even inform their friends before leaving (probably because they could not trust anybody enough to let them know); or maybe we hear someone announce that they will not write again.

This is the situation now: Those who can take the chance have been leaving the country secretly in the face of threats. There are some who would have wanted to do the same but could not, finding themselves hacked to death. In such a situation, Niloy’s friend Shokal said something that raises more questions: Even being a government official does not ensure safety.

He left the country after learning that he too was being followed because he was a friend of Niloy. What else could he do? He did not have any concrete proof that he was being followed. There was no guarantee that everything would be in his favour if he had been able to file a GD. It would not have been unusual if even the gentlest boy of the locality was dubbed arrogant because he was a blogger. So, the only way out is going out of the country for good.

I do not demand punishment for that policeman. He was the one who gave Niloy the right suggestion. He said: “Go abroad.” That police member indirectly admitted that he was not capable of giving him protection. Congratulations to him.

Silence is not the answer
Niloy Neel, the last blogger to be killed, knew that his life was in danger. After his murder, it has been learnt that he went to the police seeking protection. But instead of giving him protection, the police advised him to go abroad. It has also been learned that Niloy told others about this matter on May 15.

When are we ever going to learn that, sometimes, making things public instead of keeping them secret can ensure protection? The friends of Niloy who knew were probably concerned about him, but what about the possibility that if they had made the matter public, could Niloy’s life could have been saved? After Ananta was killed, we came to know that he had been trying but had failed to go abroad. His friends knew this.

But there is no reason to feel upset that those friends failed to create a security cordon around him. The machete is filling up the gap created by our inability to form solidarity. The quicker you realise that, the better it will be.

Fight or flight
The murder of writer-blogger Avijit Roy happened right in front of the police, but the police said in its probe report that there was no negligence in duty on their part. So, what does the word negligence mean? Police’s duty was to stand near the gate. They stood there instead of going forward. So, it is technically true that there was no negligence. Now people are talking about finding out whether Niloy Neel’s May 15 Facebook status was true. Why would someone — who was eventually killed — cook up a story about trying to file a GD?

One morning, I woke up to the news that Ananya Azad, son of late writer Humayun Azad, had left the country, that too, in the face of threats. It was not surprising. Why would someone — whose father had been hacked brutally and the incident never brought to trial — volunteer to get killed?

After Niloy’s death, he wrote from a far-away land: “Niloy’s death came as a blow. Not just Humayun Azad, but everyone who shed their blood for the country and society and upheld the spirit of creativity, free thinking, and freedom of speech, will have their place in history.”

Immediately after Niloy’s death, government official Abdullah Al Tareq left the country, fearing death. Maybe his close friends knew, but the public came to know about it from his Facebook status. He wrote: “Most of the stuff I wrote had nothing to do with religion. Every time something popped in my mind, I wrote it down in a status. It is true that I criticised religion in some write-ups. I found out every single writing that could hurt religious sentiments, deleted them, and begged pardon from everyone. I promised that I would not write any such thing again. But still they did not pardon me. If I had not changed my location every day over the last one month, my name would have hit the headlines before Niloy’s did.”

“Famous people like Taslima Nasrin, Asif Mohiuddin, and Sannyasi Ratan affectionately shared some of my writings. Maybe because of that they decided to take me down as well. Otherwise, there is no reason for a simple family-man like me to have so many enemies. I did not have any fake IDs either. Whatever I said, I said under my own identity. Over the last one month, my relatives, friends, neighbours, police, RAB, colleagues, and well-wishers did a lot for my protection. I am ever grateful and indebted to every one of them. Leaving behind my ailing old parents back home and giving up my peaceful BCS job and all my dreams, today I am headed for an uncertain future with empty hands. Maybe I will never be able to come back to my beloved motherland again.”

Are any of us safe?
Before ending, I would like to offer an example of public reaction after Niloy’s murder. I was drinking tea at a stall near a garden in Sylhet, when the news came that killers had hacked Niloy to death in his own home. The television channels were showing this as breaking news.

There were several worried faces in the tea stall. One more murder, they were thinking. They were even saying that not every blogger is bad. Some of them were sad, the tea tasted dull. A little later, the television channels informed us that Niloy’s full name was Niladri Chatterjee. Soon the worried faces relaxed. They said: “Oh! The boy was a Hindu. His name [Niloy] had nothing to say that he was.”

Please remember, those who killed him did this to scare us. Oyasiqur was also hacked to death with machetes. He was not a Hindu. Instead of feeling relieved that you are safe or the person who was killed did not belong to your community, you should keep in mind that just keeping silent will not mean that you or I will be spared. Everything will not go back to normal if we stop writing. So, before breathing a sigh of relief and going back to your normal life, you should keep in mind that even you or I could be the next target.

Udisa Islam – dhakatribune

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