#Shahbag Protesters Bid Farewell to Brutally Murdered Blogger

Shahbag crowd praying blogger Rajiv's janaza. Image by Mohammad Asad. Copyright Demotix (16/2/2013)

The #Shahbag crowd prays at blogger Rajib's janaza (funeral). Image by Mohammad Asad. Copyright Demotix (16/2/2013)

As protesters continued their chants at Shahbag calling for Bangladesh's war criminals and affiliates of the Islamist party to be beheaded, one of their own Ahmed Rajib Haider, was brutally killed outside his home in capital city Dhaka on February 15, 2013.

The following day, thousands gathered around his body at the site of the protests, Shahbag square, to pay their last respects.

Haider blogged under the pseudonym Thaba Baba (Captain Claw) and was on the forefront of the blogger and online activist-led Shahbag protests. For years, he had been writing about war criminals and Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh.

His writings and activism had even irked the Islamist party's student wing Jamaat-Shibir. Their blog Sonar Bangladesh (now blocked in Bangladesh for inciting hatred) published a series of hate-filled posts about #Shahbag's main organizers. The first feature [pdf] was on Rajib Haider.

Since February 5, 2013 hundreds of thousands of people have joined the Shahbag movement to demand harsher punishment for Bangladesh's 1971 war criminals.

An estimated 200,000 to 3 million people were killed by the Pakistani army and approximately 250,000 women were raped, during the 1971 liberation war. Local political and religious militia groups such as RazakarAl Badr, and Al-Shams aided Pakistani soldiers in the killing, particularly targeting Hindus. Their members, some of whom are affiliated with the Islamist party, were living with impunity in Bangladesh for decades. Now that they are finally facing trial, Shahbag's protesters are demanding capital punishment for their crimes.

Blogger Rajib Haider. Image courtesy his Facebook Page

Blogger Rajib Haider. Image courtesy his Facebook Page

As the news of Haider's brutal death broke, social media erupted with shock and outrage. Blogger Ranadipam Basu
wrote [bn]:

রাজীব হায়দার, ভাই আমার, তোমার স্মৃতির ভার বইতে পারছি না আমি…!

Rajib Haider, my brother, I cannot take the burden of knowing you anymore.

On the following day an activist from the Shahbag movement Russel John tweeted:

@EkusheyIt's a new day, everyone is here, except for Thaba Baba whom I used to call Kola Baba. You'll be missed dearly. #Shahbag

Mrittumoy Ishot commented in a post on Sachalayatan:

নিজের গায়ে আগুন লাগায় দিতে ইচ্ছে করছে আমার। কোন প্রগতিশীল ব্লগারকে খুন হতে দেখতে পারি না। কিছুতেই না।

I feel like burning myself. I cannot stand for the killing of a progressive blogger. Never.

On his personal blog Hasib writes:

খুন করার জন্য থাবাবাবাকে বেছে নেবার কারণ পরিষ্কার। থাবাবাবা ধর্মবিশ্বাসের নাস্তিক ছিলেন এবং সেটা তিনি উচ্চস্বরে জানানও দিতেন। জামাতের উদ্দেশ্য এখানে এই ধর্মবিশ্বাসকে আশ্রয় করে একটা বিভক্তি টানা। তারা এই বিভক্তি তৈরী করতে সফল।

It is clear why Thaba Baba was picked up and  killed. He was an open atheist. The main target of the Jamaat (Islamist party) is to create division among bloggers using religion. They were successful.

Fingers are being pointed at the Islamist political party Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and their student wing Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir for the killing of Rajib. Sushanta writes in Amar Blog:

তবে এ পর্যন্ত যতটুকু তথ্য পেয়েছি এবং জামাত শিবিরের ব্লগ সোনার বাংলায় প্রদত্ত হিট লিস্ট এবং জামায়াত-শিবিরের অতীতের কর্মকান্ড এবং শাহবাগ-ঘটিত তাদের বিভিন্ন বক্তব্যের আলোকে ব্যক্তিগতভাবে আমার মনে কোনো সন্দেহ নেই যে এই হত্যাকান্ডের সম্ভাব্য অপরাধী জামায়াত-শিবির চক্র।

So far the information I obtained from the previous actions and rhetoric of Jamaat-Shibir and the hitlist posted on the Jamaat-Shibir blog Sonar Bangladesh, I have no doubt that they are they main culprit behind this.

Thousands of people take part in the namaz-e-janaza of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka. Image by Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix (16/2/2012)

Thousands of people paying their last respect to blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka. Image by Firoz Ahmed. Copyright Demotix (16/2/2013)

After Rajib died, many shared a link on Facebook which they thought was Rajib's blog. It contained blasphemous and hate-mongering posts. Abdullah Al Kafi analyses Rajib Haider alias Thaba Baba's alleged blog on Quantcast and says:

quantcast এ গিয়ে দেখা যায় সাইটটি ফেব্রুয়ারীর ১৫ তারিখ থেকেই দেখা যাচ্ছে এর তা হোল রাজিব হত্যার দিন, অথচ সাইটটির পোস্টগুলো এক বছর আগের, নূরানি চাপা সাইটটার অস্তিত্ব ফেব্রুয়ারীর ১৫ তারিখ এর আগে ছিলই না। রাজিব হত্যার পরপরি সাইটটি রাজিব এর নামে বিকৃত কিছু পোস্ট দিয়ে অনলাইন এ ছড়িয়ে দেয়া হোল, যাতে সাধারণ মানুষ রাজিব এর লিখা পড়তে গেলে এই পোস্ট গুলো পায়।

If you analyse the site in Quantcast then you will see that the blog only exists from February 15, 2013, the day Rajib died. The posts on the site was dated one year before, however the site didn't exist before February 15. Some fabricated posts were published on the date of his death and shared widely apparently to make people believe that he wrote them.

Kafi Khan writes on the Shahbag Cyber War page:

নুরানি চাপা সাইটটা থাবা বাবা-এর খোলা না। আপনারা নিচের লিঙ্কটাতে গেলেই সব ডাটা পাবেন। এই সাইটটা গতকালও মডিফাই করা হইছে। তাইলে মরার পর কে মডিফাই করল?? আমি একটা ছবিও দিয়া দিছি!! আজব!!! এইভাবে মানুষকে দোষী বানানো কোন ঈমান এর ভিতর পড়ে??

Nurani Chapa site was not published by Thaba Baba. If you go to the following link you will find that this site was even modified yesterday, one day after his death. Then who changed it? I have taken a screenshot. Strange. Why are they trying to frame him?

Kafi Khan'snalysis - the blog was modified after his death. image courtesy Shahbag Cyber War

Kafi Khan'snalysis – the blog was modified after his death. image courtesy Shahbag Cyber War Page

In Bangladesh 89% of the population is Muslim. So there is a visible trend to divert the #Shahbag protests in social media by highlighting Rajib's atheism. Shuvo Roy Chowdhury writes in the Amar Blog:

রাজীব ভাইকে নাস্তিক বলে অনেকেই আন্দেলনকে ভিন্ন খাতে প্রবাহিত করতে চায়। তাদের উদ্দেশ্যে বলতে চাই, আপনারা যারা প্রথম থেকে আন্দোলনের সাথে কোন না কোনভাবে সম্পৃক্ত, তারা হয়তো জানবেন এই আন্দোলন কোন ধর্মযুদ্ধ নয়। এটি দেশের কলঙ্ক মোচন করার লড়াই।

They want to divert the movement by saying that Rajib is an atheist. I want to say to them, those who are involved in this movement should know this is not a religious war. This is the fight to save the country from injustice.

Generation Square- Shahbag writes on Facebook:

আবারো হাতিয়ার হিসেবে ব্যবহার হচ্ছে ধর্ম, পুঁজি করা হয়েছে ধর্মকে। প্রজন্ম চত্বরে বাঙালি এক হয়েছে রাজাকারের ফাঁসির দাবি নিয়ে, কোন ধর্মীয় ইস্যু নিয়ে নয়। প্লিজ ধর্ম এবং ফাঁসির দাবি এই দুইটা ফ্যাক্ট গুলিয়ে এক করে ফেলবেন না।

Again religion is being used as a tool for politics. People have united at generation square for the maximum punishment of war criminals. Please do not mix the demand for death penalty of the war criminals with religion.

Rajib was not killed for his atheism but for his activism in the Shahbag movement, opines Shahbagh Movement:

ব্লগার রাজীব হায়দারকে কিন্তু তার ধর্মে বিশ্বাস অথবা অবিশ্বাসের জন্য খুন করা হয়নি। সেরকম হলে তাকে আরো আগেই হত্যার চেষ্টা করা হত! রাজীব হায়দার ছাড়াও আরো অনেকে রয়েছেন যারা ধর্মে বিশ্বাস রাখেন না। তাদেরকেও কিন্তু আক্রমণ করা হয়নি। রাজীব হায়দারকে খুন করা হয়েছে যখন তিনি জামায়ত শিবির যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিরুদ্ধে আন্দোলনে নেমেছেন, তখন!

Blogger Rajib was not killed for his atheism or religion. If that's true they could have done it long ago. There are others also who do not believe in religion. But they were not attacked. When Rajib was very active in the movement against the war criminals, then he was killed.

So far, the police has arrested five people in connection with Haider's murder. Thirteen days into the movement, Shahbag is occupied by more than 100,000 protesters demanding death penalty for war criminals. Now many of them are also demanding a quick trial for their fellow protester Rajib.


  • Christian Prokopp

    The reaction on Twitter to the killing and funeral were dramatic:

  • Cuctas

    War for Peace has become the unjust slogan of many tyrants and oppressors on this earth. True Peace seems to elude humankind.

    Entertainment and Corporate Media does not provide the peace it
    proclaims. It has in reality made the people more fearful, lustful,
    violent and greedy. Escapism from faith in God, humane values and good
    deeds is their mirage.

    Islam means Peace internal and external.
    It is essential, therefore, to know, practice and propagate Islam to
    attain peace in this life and the hereafter.

  • Cuctas

    Islam, today, is the most misunderstood religion. It bears the brunt of misconceptions and hate propaganda.

    powerful mass media, aligned to deceitful political and corporate
    interests, spreads these misconceptions virulently… worldwide.

    While portraying Islam, integrity and reliability are bypassed by the media with professional charm and finesse.

    and apt Islamic viewpoints are seldom covered in the mainstream media,
    whereas aberrations by a few misled Muslims are highlighted.

    hardly have any hold or influence on major media, especially TV. They
    instead, exhibit an apologetic attitude and an inferiority complex.

    more 20,000 TV stations around the globe reach out to 5 billion people
    worldwide. Such that TV plays a major role in shaping public opinion.

    more than US $ 400 billion invested in TV productions and distribution
    alone, it is serious business laden with cut-throat competition,
    political manipulations and corporate interests.

    scale media mergers in the industry have led to limiting the viewpoints
    having access to mass media, specially the Islamic viewpoint.

    This scenario needs to be countered with a global reach for the truth of Islam. As the Quran (Ch. 21, V. 18) advises us:

    When truth is hurled against falsehood, falsehood perishes, for falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.

  • […] Baba (Captain Claw) and was a leading force in the protests, was hacked to death near his home. Thousands of supporters gathered in Shahbag square to honor the blogger's life. At least four people were killed and […]

  • […] blogger at the forefront of the Shahbag protests, Ahmed Rajib Haider, was murdered outside his home in Dhaka on February 15. For years, he had been writing about war criminals and Islamic […]

  • […] واحد في طليعة تظاهرات شاه باج، أحمد رجب حيدر، قُتل خارج منزله في دكا يوم 15 من فبراير/ شباط. يكتب أحمد لعدة سنوات  عن […]

  • […] of the Shahbag movement and wrote frequently about religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, was brutally murdered outside his home in capital city Dhaka on February 15, […]

  • […] of the Shahbag movement who wrote frequently about religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, was hacked to death outside his home in Dhaka on Feb. 15. This development came after Islamist leaders claimed that […]

  • […] of the Shahbag movement who wrote frequently about religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, was hacked to death outside his home in Dhaka on Feb. 15. This development came after Islamist leaders claimed that […]

  • […] fundamentalist forces earlier. Ahmed Rajib Haider, a blogger associated with Shahbag protests was brutally killed by them. Now as bloggers received this blow from the government, the netizens expressed their […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site