Hindu monastery worker hacked to death in Bangladesh

DHAKA • Unidentified attackers hacked a 62-year-old Hindu monastery worker to death in Bangladesh yesterday, police said, the latest in a series of such attacks on religious minorities in the mainly Muslim country.

Police said Mr Nityaranjan Pande was taking his regular early morning walk when the attackers set upon him.

"As a diabetic, he walks early in the morning every day. Today, as he was walking, several attackers hacked him in the neck... He died on the spot," local police station chief Abdullah Al-Hasan said. "He had been working at the monastery for about 40 years. In recent years, he was the head of its office staff."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. However, the head of police in the north-western district of Pabna, where the Shri Shri Thakur Anukulchandra Ashram is located, said the killing bore the hallmarks of recent attacks by Islamist extremists on minorities and secular activists.

Bangladesh is reeling from a wave of murders of secular and liberal activists and religious minorities that have left nearly 50 people dead in the last three years.

Most of the latest attacks have been claimed either by terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or a South Asian branch of Al-Qaeda.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has however blamed home-grown Islamists for the attacks, rejecting claims of responsibility from ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

Experts said a government crackdown on opponents, including a ban on the largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, following a protracted political crisis, has pushed many towards extremism. Victims of the attacks have included secular bloggers, gay rights activists and followers of minority religions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Hindu monastery worker hacked to death in Bangladesh'. Print Edition | Subscribe