An elderly Hindu ashram worker was today hacked to death by suspected Islamists in Bangladesh, becoming the fourth person from the minority community to be killed in a series of brutal attacks on secular activists in the Muslim-majority nation. Nityaranjan Pandey, 60, who was working as a volunteer for the past 40 years at the Thakur Anukul Chandra Satsanga Paramtirtha Hemayetpurdham Ashram, was murdered this morning in Pabna’s Hemayetpur Upazila.
Pandey was taking his routine morning walk when several machete-wielding attackers hacked him in the neck, killing him on the spot only 200 yards away from the ashram, Pabna’s police superintendent Alamgir Kabir told PTI over phone.
It appears, he said, the same group which carried out the recent clandestine attacks on secular and liberal activists and religious minorities killed Pandey.
Residents in the neighbourhood said the killers hit him on the head and neck with machetes and fled the scene.
“He was the most devoted worker of our ashram...to our understanding he never developed personal enmity with anyone during his stay here for the past three decades,” a member of the monastery’s managing committee told newsmen at the scene.
The monastery, named after a famous Hindu saint, draws large number of Hindu devotees from across Bangladesh and neighbouring India.
Pandey’s murder comes within a week of killings of a Hindu priest, a Christian grocer and wife of an anti-terror police officer.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the murder. The ISIS and al-Qaeda in Indian Peninsula have claimed responsibility for some of the recent attacks although the government denies their presence in Bangladesh.
The latest attack came just hours after police said they launched a nationwide anti-militancy week-long crackdown also engaging elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh.
TV reports suggested the authorities detained over 100 people and 47 of them were detained alone from Jhinaidah, the scene of the murder of Hindu priest Sunil Ganguly on Sunday.
The security clampdown was launched a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised to intensify a nationwide anti-terror security clampdown.
“If they (militants) think they could turn Bangladesh upside down, they are wrong...they will be exposed to justice in the soil of Bangladesh and their patrons will also not be spared,” she told the parliament.
In February, militants stabbed to death a Hindu priest at a temple and shot and wounded a devotee who went to his aid.
In April, a liberal professor was brutally hacked to death in Rajshahi city. In the same month, a Hindu tailor was hacked to death in his shop and Bangladesh’s first gay magazine editor was brutally murdered along with a friend in his flat in Dhaka by Islamists.