I am penning down my thoughts on the occasion of Avijit Roy’s first death anniversary.
I got introduced to Avijit Roy in the worst possible way when a picture is forwarded to my WhatsApp inbox last year during the end of February. The photo was of a woman with blood soaked clothes asking for help, a man wearing a blue jeans was lying on the road with a pool of blood, and the woman’s hand was circled showing that she had lost her thumb. There were onlookers including policemen. There was a line of text below the picture saying ‘Bangladeshi American blogger murdered in Dhaka’. The gruesome picture gave me chills seeing the condition of that hapless woman, I replied to my friend saying ‘nrishongsho’ (barbarous) and deleted the picture at that time.
Next day in all the leading Bengali newspapers of West Bengal published the news of that murder and the national English dailies also did the same, I read all the related articles and came to know that Avijit was a rationalist author and he was the founder of a blog site called ‘Muktomona’, and because of his writing in that blog Islamist militants had targeted him while he was returning from the book fair on the fateful evening of 26th Feb 2015. I became interested in checking out the blog and finding out what a man can write due to which he deserves such cruelty? I tried to access the blog but it was down at that time, I found out some of his writings in the BDnews English website and was impressed by his razor sharp reasoning and writing skills, at the same time I started checking on mukto mona everyday and then after some time the blog came back online with a simple heading in its banner ‘Amra shokahoto kintu oporajito’ (We are in grief, but we remain undefeated). Impressive!! Damn impressive!! I became a fan of the blog site from that day onwards and to date I read the blog each and every day and its archives.
If you have read this long, I think it will be fine if I say a little bit about myself. I am an Indian human being Hindu by birth and my mother tongue is Bengali, I am not a superstitious person, I am an engineer and I believe in science, I do not call myself an atheist as I feel to be an atheist you have to be very strong mentally which I am not for many reasons.
I have read Avijit Roy’s writings on religion and multiple scientific topics. His science writings have made big impact on me as they explain complex scientific theories in simple Bengali. I read these articles to prepare myself so that I can explain those complex theories to my kids when they grow up to the age of grasping these concepts.
I got the chance of reading his books ‘Biswasher Virus’ (The Virus of Belief) and ‘Shunyo theke Mohabiswo’ (The Universe from Nothing) as they are available in free e-book format, I would like to read his other works also but these books are not available in India.
Avijits’ legacy is being continued very successfully in Muktomona as there are very well researched excellent articles published on the blog on a daily basis and it gives immense pleasure in reading those in Bengali.
I am also following the trial of Avijit’s murder and it’s been a year without any progress, I think it will be foolish to expect a fair trial on this issue from the current government of Bangladesh as not only Avijit, a few other bloggers and publishers are also killed last year and no action has been taken.
I feel Bangladesh is going through very bad times and some evil forces are trying to convert it to another Pakistan or Syria. As a Bengali speaking person and as my country India played a crucial role during the freedom war of Bangladesh, it saddens me when I see that religion is getting the precedence.
In this kind of dark times, blogs like Muktomona need to play a crucial role to spread rational thinking as much as possible among the masses.
As far as I am concerned, I am unfortunate that I didn’t get a chance to interact with Avijit when he was alive, but he continues to inspire me and others even after his death.
Rest in Peace Avijit Roy!