Mukto-Mona founder and author Avijit Roy’s father Ajay Roy; a former university teacher was interviewed by TV journalist Farzana Rupa. The interview was broadcasted on Channel 71 on June 21st, 2015. Two days before the interview, in a separate interview with Bangla Tribune, Ajay Roy mentioned the names of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) teacher Farseem Mannan Mohammadey and his group, “Zero to Infinity,” also the team’s advisor Jamat-e-Islami activist Trivuz Alam. First and foremost, Ajay explicitly mentioned that he doesn’t necessarily believe that Farseem was involved in Avijit’s killing. However, Farseem may have played an indirect role in preparing the field for the attack. He also mentioned that the same night Avijit Roy was murdered, “Zero to Infinity” advisor Trivuz Alam celebrated ‘one major occasion’ at the Radisson Hotel.
What did Ajay mean, when he said that Farseem had a passive role? Let’s examine the last few days of Avijit and Bonya’s stay in Dhaka. Only a handful number of people knew that Avijit and Bonya would be visiting Bangladesh in February 2015; Farseem is one of them. Ajay Roy raised a legitimate question, whether this information was passed on to “Zero to Infinity” group and subsequently to Trivuz Alam via Farseem himself.
Ajay Roy wonders whether Avijit was invited to a meeting at the book fair on February the 26th because time was running out for the killers. Did Trivuz Alam ask Farseem to arrange such meeting? On that day, Avijit had no prior plan to attend the book fair.
Avijit and Bonya had plans for the 27th. They were supposed to hang out with some of the Mukto-Mona members.
On the 25th February, Farseem opened a facebook message thread. He invited Avijit along with 12 other people to attend a ‘meeting of Science Writers’ on February 26, evening. Farseem Asked Avijit, whether it is okay to share the news of this session with media before February ends. Avijit replied he was fine with it.
Avijit didn’t confirm whether he could attend the meeting, rather he said that the idea of a meeting is fine. He sent a message to the thread asking others to invite science advocator Asif to join the meeting. Avijit couldn’t do it himself because he didn’t have Asif’s cell number.
On 26th February midday publisher Ahmedur Rashid Tutul met with Avijit and informed him that, later in the evening there is also a meeting of writers from his publication house at the book fair. Avijit told his father over the phone that, he will visit Ajay Roy at home in the afternoon.
Bonya was tired because she already had been at the fair for some consecutive days. I knew for a fact that, on February 26th, they had no plans to go to the book fair. Rather on the next day, the morning of February 27th, they were supposed to spend time with some members of Mukto-Mona.
Avijit and Bonya reached the book fair in the afternoon. Around 6 pm, they reached the meeting spot. But nobody was there. Then they went to the Shuddhashar stall and met Tutul and some others. They were there up until 7 pm when Farseem appeared. Farseem apologized for being late. He explained that he was stuck because of evening prayers. Then the three went to a different stall along with others. It was around 7.30pm. They sat on the grass, and the meeting started.
The meeting ended around 8.10pm. Avijit sent me a message at 8.23pm asking me where I was and also invited me to meet him.
That was when I became aware that, they were at the book fair. Samia and I were shopping items for the next day’s dinner. Later I heard from Bonya that, the two were planning to eat dinner out at a restaurant. I still remember the events of 2012. Avijit used to sit in the backseat my bike, and we regularly went out for dinner.
Avijit and Bonya came out from the Swarawarthy section of the book fair and went to the Bangla Academy section. Then they started walking towards their car. It was evident that, someone was tailing them and that someone also informed the killers about their position.
I was told about the attack around 9.30pm. I rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital along with Samia. Bonya was hurried in for CT scan on her head. I knew the doctor who was treating Avijit. He informed me that, Avijit was no more. He was alive for at least 15 minutes after they brought him to the hospital. But he already lost too much blood; he couldn’t be saved.
One acquaintance informed that he saw Farseem along with Avijit and Bonya at the so-called science writer’s meeting. I looked for him at the hospital compound. He was nowhere to be found.
Everybody was shocked at his absence. He was also absent on Facebook.
When Ajay Roy raised the question about Farseem’s invitation, Farseem transferred the whole responsibility on “Zero to Infinity”s editor Abdullah Mahmud.
“He should decide on how he should run his magazine. It is true that I noticed he was mingling with some dangerous people. I warned him about it. But it is up to him to take the steps. I can’t assume responsibility for it.”
Farseem also mentioned that he was involved with the magazine for the first one and a half years. But as the magazine went on to become popular, the editor distanced himself from Farseem.
On the contrary, on a Facebook status Mahmud mentioned that he was still very much in contact with Farseem. His magazine wanted to publish an obituary for Avijit on their next issue. But Farseem forbade him from doing so.
Farseem had a good relation with Avijit. Avijit was killed right after attending the same event Farseem invited him to. Farseem never came to visit Avijit’s dead body or injured Bonya at the hospital. But it doesn’t imply that his cruel attitude towards a departed atheist means he was involved in some way. Our very own prime minister also couldn’t generate that courage.
It is important to note that, the “Zero to Infinity” magazine removed the name of Trivuz Alam as its advisor from the March issue. Ajay Roy informed that, Trivuz organized a party on the very same night Avijit was murdered. Ajay asked to check the hotel register to verify his claim. There must be someone who can do it.
A person arrested by the police, who goes by the name “Mukul Rana” could be a significant lead in identifying the mastermind behind Avijit’s killing. DMP deputy commissioner Masrukur Rahman informed bdnews24.com that Mukul Rana aka Sharif has information about all the blogger killings.
Sharif’s name came on the newspaper on the 20th May. The DMP declared a reward of Tk.500000 if someone helps to apprehend Sharif along with another ABT member Selim.
On 17th August 2015, police arrested an ABT member who goes by the name Sadek Ali Mitu. Based on the information he provided, the police arrested another two people. One was a British citizen Tawhidur Rahman, the other Aminul Mallik. It was Tawhidur who was alleged to be the planner behind deciding who to kill. He used to run a surveillance program on bloggers.
After preliminary questions, the arrested informed RAB that, the five of them met at the front of a dormitory at the Dhaka University for initial planning to kill Avijit. They divided into two groups and started following Avijit and Bonya. When the two came out from the book fair, two of the killers Nayeem and Ramzan attacked Avijit with machetes and later fled the scene.
In May 2016, police claimed they had identified Sharif as the mastermind behind Avijit’s murder. On 19th June morning, police argued that Sharif was killed in an alleged gunfight with the police.
As claimed by the police video below shows Sharif following Avijit and Bonya when they were leaving the book fair. As mentioned above, Sharif also goes by the name Mukul Rana.
Avijit and Bonya informed me that, they were being followed every time they went to the book fair, once by some teenagers, later by one military officer.
If you notice the video, you can see that Avijit was not wearing the same dress he wore the night he was killed. It is entirely possible that; there were attempts on Avijit’s life before the date he was murdered.
Police claimed that Sharif was killed in a motorcycle chase when he shot fires on police when they challenged him. Given the long history of extrajudicial killings by law enforcing agencies of Bangladesh, it is evident that the police presented a fabricated story.
From University professors to students and employees from multinational companies, from Imams to Madrassah students; people from various walks of life are alarmingly getting involved with many fringe Islamic groups like IS, AQIS, JMB and others. They are destroying the secular image of Bangladesh. The mastermind behind Avijit’s murder is yet to be identified. It has not yet been identified whether Farseem is involved with Hizbut Tahrir, what sort of relationship he had with Jamat-e Islami activist Trivuz Alam and who supplied the information of Avijit Roy’s arrival in Dhaka to the militants. The night Bangladesh lost one of its greatest souls, some science activists, on the contrary, were celebrating at Radisson Hotel. They haven’t offered their condolences for once. These radical Islamists still continue to thrive, along with their pseudo-science.