This Article is From May 08, 2016

Who Will Protect Us, Asks Family Of Hindu Tailor Killed In Bangladesh

Nikhil Joardher, a tailor, was dragged from his shop and hacked to death by the roadside.


  • Nikhil Joardher, a tailor, was dragged from his shop and hacked to death
  • ISIS claims credit, says 'in response to his anti-Islam remark in 2012'
  • A neighbour claims he was killed after an altercation with some men
Dhaka: In a village in Tangail, 5 hours north-west of Dhaka, the grief is raw.

The wife and two daughters of Nikhil Joardher, 50, a tailor, break down repeatedly, as they describe how he was dragged from his shop and hacked to death by the roadside.

A small dark blood stain marks the spot even today.
It was an act of violence that shattered the equilibrium between this tiny pocket of Hindus and their Muslim neighbours.

There was a rupture however, in 2012, when Mr Joardher was arrested for allegedly making remarks derogatory to Islam, sparking tensions in the village.

The family denies this. His wife, Aarti Joardher, says "without any reason the people started gathering around his shop and started claiming that he said something against the Prophet. But he never did. He said that the Prophet and our god Krishna are just the same, so why would I insult your Prophet."

The 2012 FIR against Mr Joardher appears to be vague; Saleh Mohammed Tanvir, the Superintendent of Police of Tangail told us that he "could not remember any specific allegation" in the FIR.

But a neighbour, Abdul Baset Shikdar, who runs a dispensary told NDTV that Mr Joardher's comments were not derogatory.

"There were some young bearded men who were sitting beside his (Nikhil Joardher's) shop and saying some bad things", he said. "Nikhil became angry and told them you people should have some respect for this beard, because your Prophet also had a beard, and he would not approve of your behaviour."

Within hours of Mr Joardher's death, however, ISIS sent out a tweet claiming credit for his killing, saying it was in retaliation for the 2012 incident.

But the police have ruled out that claim, arresting three local men: the principal of madrassa who filed the complaint against Mr Joardher in 2012, a member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and another of the Jamaat-e-Islami, both members of the opposition coalition.

At the home of Badsa Miah, the Jamaat leader, the anguish is acute.

His wife breaks down as she opens the door. His daughter Suraiya who cannot contain her tears says her father was innocent. "He was taking his prayers and that was his only fault", she said. "He was a doctor loved by all and a teacher at the local madrassa."

The government of Sheikh Hasina has come under severe criticism for blaming the murders of secular bloggers, minorities, and gay activists on the opposition, making arrests in droves.

An eyewitness at Mr Joardher's village says the killers were young men, between the age of  22 to 25. But he could not see their faces clearly; "they waved machetes in the air to warn us away", he said.

At least two of the arrested men - Mohammad Azizul Haque, the madrassa principal and Badsa Miah, the Jamaat member, are considerably older.

The police however insist politics does not lie behind the arrests. "It is plain investigation and I must say that the investigation is impartial, they are being arrested due to some local information." said the Superintendent of Police of Tangail. "There are so many Jamaat and BNP supporters here but as you can see, we are not doing any random arrests here. If we arrest there is some reason."

For the moment, the family has protection - a group of seven armed policemen stand outside Mr Joardher's home. "They will stay as long as there is a perception of threat," said the SP.

But the killing has exposed the family to multiple vulnerabilities. Mr Joardher was the sole pillar of support not just for his wife, but for the wives and children of his three brothers, two of whom are dead, and the third, mentally challenged.

"Who will look after us now," says his daughter, unable to contain her tears. "How will we be safe?"