You already have been informed of the murder of Mr. Avijit Roy, writer and freethinker, by the barbaric attack of Islamist hardliners in Dhaka last week. For our international readers, necessary information on his work and career has already been and will be published by other writers in this website, therefore, I will not add any formal view of his life hereafter. This is for the first time I am writing in Muktomona, and it is a tribute, of course, to my hero – as I used to call him – Avijit da (brother). I knew he would stop someday, but this early? Never I imagined. A sharp pang of sorrow has shot through me on hearing his premature passing away. I cried, I got agitated, but then I decided to speak out. I am writing for Avijit da, I am writing for letting those fanatics know that neither Avijit, nor his ideology is dead.
What is Avijit to me? If there had been any position for the public understanding of science in the University of Dhaka, Avijit Roy, undoubtedly, could have been the best candidate. He was our Richard Dawkins. Although he was a true polymath, I would praise him mostly for his popular science writing. He knew how to reach in the core of the heart of reluctant and scared Bengali reader with the magic of science. His trendsetting science writing has inspired innumerable youngsters in coming forward and wielding the keyboard with mother tongue. It is widely believed that he is the best science writer in Bangla. His unexpected death is a grievous loss to science and freethought.
As I have told earlier, being a polymath he touched almost all sphere of knowledge. Writing about science was his favourite task. However, he never forgot to respond to the pseudoscience and online hoaxes. He taught us what is “Occam’s Razor”, he showed us how to debate and blow up illogical thoughts, he demonstrated how to practice science. His writings always were full of references that introduced us to the giants on whose shoulders modern science is advancing fast.
Although he was wholeheartedly a science writer, religious bigots are introducing him to the common God-fearing people as “anti-religion atheist writer” to secure full support for them. Yes, their statement is true in part. To him, religion and science have no coherence, rather have utter conflict. Nevertheless, announcing him mere as an atheist doesn’t cover a mammoth proportion of what he was. This kind of attitude is just a trump card for the opportunist players of religion. We saw in the past, and now are watching again, even current ruling political party known historically as fosterer of secularism didn’t take any measure against these religious fanatics just for the sake of securing their future muslim voters. On the other hand, some people, despite being informed, are familiarizing Avijit Roy as a Hindu. This is a sheer lie and hypocrisy. He was an outspoken atheist and humanist all along. He wrote against all kind of religious ideologies and their inexpediencies. People should be well informed of who Avijit Roy was, what he fought and died for. Avijit himself was an institution. He must be studied as a whole.
I would like to remember Rafida Ahmed Bonna (we call Bonna Apa meaning Sister Bonna) alongside. Islamist bigots have attacked her severely as well. Although she has escaped death, but still is not out of danger. She has lost her finger to save her life-companion. That she has written the best book on evolution in Bangla is undoubted. I personally came to know about Avijit Roy and his blog site muktomona from that book (Bibortoner Poth Dhore, meaning Along the way of Evolution). This book should be added as a textbook in the universities of Bangladesh for the biology students. I fervently want Mrs. Bonna come round soon and get courage to mend her broken heart. My condolence goes also to Avijit Roy’s teenage daughter.
Ignoring the assured career and comfortable life of USA, Avijit Roy wrote for us, spoke for us, incessantly. He was a “candle in the dark” in an anti-scientific, prejudiced and religiously dogmatic society. In this “demon-haunted time”, he was our best guidance. He was a role model for the young freethinkers of Bangladesh. Avijit da will never write again with his hand, but we, those who he created and left behind, will bear his pen and walk through whatever the horrid and rugged paths come before us. Avijit da, we are still writing. Through us, you are writing as well.