With no visible progress in the murder probe of Nityaranjan Pandey, a volunteer of a Hindu monastery in Pabna, Islamic State has claimed the responsibility for the killing, according to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group.
“Amaq News Agency of the Islamic State reported that IS fighters in Bangladesh killed a Hindu man in the northeastern district of Pabna,” SITE Intelligence said on its website on Friday.
The Daily Star could not independently verify the IS claim.
Nityaranjan, 60, a sebak at Sree Sree Thakur Anukulchandra Satsang ashram, was hacked to dead around 5:00am Friday when he was taking his regular morning walk about half a kilometre away from the ashram, the latest in a spate of such killings in the country.
Jugal Kishore, acting secretary of the ashram, filed a case with Pabna Sadar Police Station on Friday night, accusing anonymous criminals of the murder. Law enforcers were yet to make an arrest in this connection.
The victim was buried at his family's ancestral home at Arua Kangsur village in Gopalganj around 9:30am yesterday, said ashram sources.
Meanwhile, two organisations held a joint demonstration in Pabna town yesterday demanding trial of Nityaranjan's killers.
“We've collected some information and will work on it,” Abdullah Al Hasan, officer-in-charge of the police station, told our Pabna correspondent.
Police didn't get any “concrete evidence” to detain murder suspects. Police and intelligence agencies were working together to identify the real culprits, the OC added.
Md Alamgir Kabir, police superintendent in Pabna, said it was a target killing. “The investigation is a tough job as there is no eyewitness to the incident.”
About the IS claim, Liton Kumar Saha, additional superintendent of Pabna police and also the head of the five-member committee for monitoring the probe, said they could not name the killers at this stage of investigation.
People from different strata in Pabna town joined a demonstration on the premises of Pabna Town Hall demanding punishment for the criminals. The district unit of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad and Pabna Zila Puja Udjapan Parishad organised the programme.
Protesters said security of the religious minority people in Pabna were under threat after several killings in last few days. They blamed non-punishment of criminals for recurrence of such murders.
Residents of the ashram became panicky after the gruesome murder of Nityaranjan. They stayed inside the ashram campus and didn't send their children to schools yesterday. The prayer room of the monastery remained closed after the incident.
“We used to go for a morning walk everyday, but we didn't dare to go out of the ashram today [yesterday],” said Chapa Rani, a residential devotee at the monastery.
“I didn't send my two children to school today. I asked them to stay inside the ashram campus,” she added.
Jugal Kishore said the security of the devotees became a big concern after the murder incident.
“The devotees live here with the spirit of secularism of Anukul Chandra. They never ever thought that their lives would be at risk. But following the murder of Nityaranjan, they have lost their belief that they don't have any enemy,” the acting secretary of the ashram added.
Shefali Biswas, 83, has been at the ashram for 44 years. Her late husband was a follower of Anukul Chandra for his secularist spirit.
“Following the death of my husband, I came here to comply with his order. I've never seen such a cruelty in the name of religion,” she said.