Trademark machete killers: BCL leaders recount Shibir's brutal attacks

Published : 06 Jul 2022 11:23 PM

Since the days of Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami and their student affiliate Islami Chatra Shibir have been associated with the most brutal form of assassination -- slashing their victims to death by sharp machetes or smashing their heads with bricks.

The remorseless hacking using the sharp weapon leaves the victim badly mutilated heading towards slow and painful death due to ceaseless blood loss.

This also creates terror -- no victim would like to die so painfully.

Three former Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) leaders, who survived brutal attacks, recently recounted their experiences in a webinar.

Recounting the Shibir's machete attack on May 15, 1999, Abul Kalam Azad, a former Chittagong university BCL leader , said  it was still a nightmare. 

"As I left the exam hall on that day, an armed gang of Shibir activists waylaid me and whisked me away by brandishing weapons. They dragged me to a brick kiln and beat me up mercilessly," said Azad.

"A senior student rushed to save me and begged the attackers to spare me. As I tried to flee, the Shibir activists dragged me back and nearly smashed my head with bricks," Azad recalled.

Azad  had to spend two long years in treatment in Dhaka and India's Chennai.

Azad says he still suffers from mental trauma 23 years after the attack and has to consult doctors. 

Tonmoy Ahmed has 130 stitches all over his stocky frame after he and his friend were mercilessly slashed with machetes near his village home during Eid. 

Tonmoy, who now heads the Awami League Web team,  was given up as dead after a series of machete blows targeting his head and neck . But he survived miraculously. 

"Amar desh, the radical mouthpiece, published a cooked up story implicating me and my fellow junior at BUET Arif Raihan Dweep for beating up an imam at a mosque on the campus who supplied food to a group of Islamists. In  reality , we had just complained to university authorities about how an Imam can be allowed to serve meals to radicals when the meals were meant for university students," recalls Tonmoy.

A few days after that 'Amar Desh' report,  Dweep was hacked by a fellow student in broad daylight in his dormitory, said Tonmoy.

He said the attacker Meshbahuddin confessed before a magistrate that provocative sermons from a preacher invoked him to kill Dweep with the promise of being rewarded by Allah.  Following a dreadful 84 days battle with life and death Dweep succumbed to his injuries, said Tonmoy.

" Months later when I was  at my village home at Palashbari on Eid vacation, venturing out with friends at night,  a microbus bearing “Dhaka Metro” number plate flanked by some bike riders  emerged  near a deserted bazaar and attacked me,"  recalled Tonmoy. 

Recounting that horrific experience, Tonmoy said first they blocked the road with bikes and the microbus and then started hacking him with machetes. 

"I grabbed an attacker in sheer desperation but his friends freed him and ran back towards the microbus," recalled Tonmoy.

 "As I fell,  weakened by blood loss mostly, they thought I was dead." 

Even after Tonmoy survived the surgery, attempts were on to eliminate him.

Tonmoy says  a Shibir activist of Rangpur medical university unit was picked up when trying to gather information about his ward.

Nine years later, Tonmoy suffers the mortification of being branded a Shibir activist by Netranews editor Tasneem Khalil, who said his claims were based on hearsay.

"This smear based on hearsay is unbearable.  You are accused of being a part of the very group which tried to kill me so brutally," says Tonmoy. 

"Shibir tried to kill me physically , Netranews run by Kamal Hossain's son-in-law David Bergman is trying to kill me politically," said Tonmoy, pointing to the remote connection between the US-funded Netranews and the Islamist Jamaat.