Ananta Bijoy Das was a Bangladeshi blogger on the Mukto-Mona* website.
On 12 May 2015, masked men carrying machetes approached the human rights defender and blogger Ananta Bijoy Das on his way to work in Sylhet. They attacked him, striking him on the head and upper body. His murder was claimed by the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam (also known as Ansarullah Bangla Team), which claims to have links to Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. Prior to his murder, Das had received death threats purporting to be from the same group.
Das’ death in 2015 was one of a number of killings of bloggers who’d posted pieces online critical of Islam that same year. In each case, the attacks were carried out publicly on city streets. In February 2015, the founder of the Mukto-Mona website, Dr. Avijit Roy, was attacked and killed as he was returning home from the Ekushey Book Fair in Dhaka by bicycle rickshaw with his wife. A group which refers to itself as “Ansar Bangla 7” claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that Roy’s writings on secularism and human rights were a “crime against Islam”. Prior to his death, Roy had received direct death threats on Facebook.
In March 2015, human rights defender and blogger Oyasiqur (aka Washiqur) Rhaman was attacked by a number of men with knives and meat cleavers just outside his house as he headed to work at a travel agency in the capital, Dhaka. Rahman blogged under the name “Kutshit Hasher Chhana” (the Ugly Duckling) about gender equality, violation of women’s rights, and his opposition to fundamental Islam’s role in Bangladesh’s legal system. Prior to his death, Rhaman received a series of death threats.
In 2006, Ananta Bijoy Das was awarded Mukto Mona’s annual prize for promoting “humanist ideals and messages”.
* Mukto-Mona, meaning “free thinkers” in Bengali, is a Bengali language blog publishing secular articles and blogs.