Vinod Mubayi and Raza Mir


Two issues in South Asia have captured our attention this month. The first is the troubling regularity with which secularist bloggers and journalists are being murdered in Bangladesh. Several secularists including a professor were hacked to death by machete wielding goons in the months of April and May in a depressing “signature” modus operandi, along with a Christian doctor and a Hindu tailor. Likewise, the murder of secular anti-Shiaphobia activist Khurram Zaki in Pakistan in early May unfortunately echoes a similar incendiary mix of intolerance and impunity practiced by fascist goons pretending to be defenders off religiosity. The execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami head of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, by the Bangladesh state, is also an unfortunate development. Unsavory and murderous, he may have been, but a principled opposition to the death penalty, even for convicted murderers, should be our position as human rights activists.


The second issue has been the mid-term election in India, where the BJP has made gains in non-traditional sites such as Assam, slowly consolidating its position as a national party. The Left Front did wrest back control of Kerala, but reprised its earlier loss in Bengal. Overall, the brutal electoral arithmetic shows the BJP moving up on the moribund Congress, which bodes ill for civil liberties and democratic rights in the “great democracy.”

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