A Hindu priest was hacked to death in Bangladesh’s Jhenaidah on Friday, in a chilling similarity to the murder of another priest from the religious minority in the same southwestern district last month.
Shyamananda Das, 50, was serving the Sri Sri Radha Madan Gopal Temple at Uttar Kastasagarha in the Bangladesh district’s Sadar Upazila for the past three years, bdnews24.com reported.
Police said three motorcycle-borne assailants hacked him down early on Friday, exactly in the manner priest Ananda Gopal Ganguly was killed last month in the same Upazila.
Jhenaidah SP Sheikh Altaf Hossain said the latest murder resembles killings across Bangladesh in the past two years in which motorcycle-borne suspected militants shot and hacked down secular bloggers, publishers, writers, Hindu priests, Buddhist monks, Christian pastors and even foreigners.
Quoting an eyewitness, Hossain said the murder took place around 5:20 a.m. on Friday.
“Shyamananda was picking flowers for puja (worship) outside the temple when three assailants approached him on a motorcycle and hacked him down,” Hossain said.
“To make sure he died, they rained multiple blows on his head and neck with sharp weapons.”
Das was rushed to the Jhenaidah Sadar Hospital, but was declared dead by doctors around 6 a.m.
The witness told police that the faces of the killers were covered with “gamchha” (a local variant of towel). One of them was carrying a long-bladed machete.
Temple treasurer Prabhash Kumar said Das hailed from Musuridanga village in Narhail Sadar Upazila.
“He came to serve this temple three years ago. He had no enmity with anyone.”
Later in the day, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal at his home in Dhaka told reporters that “law enforcers will be able to catch the killers very soon as there is an eyewitness”.
He claimed the suspected militants and assailants involved in the past similar murders were “under surveillance”.
“That’s why we think we’ll be able to catch them (killers) soon.”
On June 7, priest Ananda Ganguly, 69, was murdered in an identical fashion in Jhenaidah Sadar’s Mahishdanga village.
The US monitoring group SITE Intelligence has said the Islamic State had owned responsibility for Ganguly’s murder.
But police say his killers are linked to the Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student affiliate of the Jamaat-e-Islami whose top leaders have been convicted for the mass killing of Hindus during Bangladesh’s freedom struggle in 1971.
So far, four people, including Das and Ganguly, have been murdered in Jhenaidah alone.