TANGAIL: The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the murder of a Hindu tailor in central Bangladesh yesterday, according to a US-based monitoring group, amid a rise in attacks on religious minorities in the Muslim-majority nation. Police said Nikhil Chandra Joarder, who was hacked to death by at least two attackers outside his shop, may have been killed for making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed several years ago.
“Elements from the Islamic State assassinated a Hindu in the city of Tangail in Bangladesh by stabbing him to death,” the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency said, citing a source, according to SITE Intelligence Group. “He was known for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad,” Amaq said in the Arabic message. Police officials told AFP they were investigating whether the killing was linked to Islamist militants or was tied to a family dispute.
“They came on a motorcycle and attacked him as he sat on a roadside. They hacked him on his head, neck and hand,” deputy chief of Tangail district police Aslam Khan said. Bangladesh is reeling from a series of brutal attacks on members of minority faiths, secularists, foreigners and intellectuals in recent months, including two gay activists and a liberal professor in the past eight days alone. Many of the killings have been blamed on or claimed by Islamist groups-and in several cases attackers riding motorbikes hacked the victims to death with machetes or cleavers.
However, the government denies that international Islamist groups such as IS or Al-Qaeda have a presence in the country, instead blaming homegrown militants for the killings. Local Muslims had in 2012 filed a complaint with police against Joarder, who owned a tailoring shop, for making derogatory comments about the Prophet Mohammed. He was charged with hurting religious sentiments and spent three weeks in jail. “But the trial did not proceed after the complainants withdrew the charges,” Abdul Jalil, the police chief of Gopalpur sub-district said. Another official said that the dispute appeared to have ended peacefully, adding that the victim’s family said he was also being threatened by a relative.
Arrests in Christian killing
Separately, police said yesterday they had arrested two members of a banned Islamist militant outfit, Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in the case of a Christian convert brutally hacked to death in March. “The JMB men are suspects in the murder of Hossain Ali Sarker,” Kurigram district police chief Tobarak Ullah said, adding that the arrests were made two days ago. IS group has in recent months claimed responsibility for the killing of Christians, Hindu priests and members of the minority Sufi, Ahmadi and Shiite faiths in Bangladesh.
In February suspected Islamists decapitated a top Hindu priest inside a temple complex in one of the country’s northern districts, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. The murders come amid a long-running political crisis that some suggest has radicalized opponents of the government. Analysts say Islamists now pose a growing danger in the South Asian country. At least 30 members of religious minorities, secular activists, foreigners and intellectuals have been murdered in Bangladesh in the past three years. Hindus, the country’s largest religious minority, make up nearly 10 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people. – AFP