A day into the killing of homeopath Sanaur Rahman in Kushtia, global terror outfit Islamic State yesterday claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that he was killed for “calling to Christianity”.
The US-based Site Intelligence Group posted the claim on its website, referring to Amaq News Agency, the media wing of the IS.
“IS fighters in Bangladesh killed a doctor who 'called to Christianity' in the western district of Kushtia,” says the post.
However, the claim was dismissed by Sanaur's neighbours.
Luis Biswas, organiser of a Christian missionary in Kushtia, said he knew Sanaur to be a homeopath for the poor, but he was never involved in promoting Christianity.
“Sanaur had no relation with missionary activities,” he added.
Abu Selim, who received treatment from the 60-year-old for a couple of years, said he never heard of the homeopath talking about Christianity.
Sanaur's brother-in-law Obaidur said he never propagated any anti-religious views.
Machete-wielding assailants killed Sanaur and injured his friend Saifuzzaman, assistant professor at Islamic University in Kushtia, at Bottoil near Sadar upazila on Friday, barely a week after an elderly Buddhist monk was hacked to death inside a temple in Bandarban.
The IS and al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) have been claiming responsibility for the recent attacks on bloggers, publishers, freethinkers, academics and people of different ideologies in the country.
Denying the claims repeatedly, the government insisted that the attacks were carried out by home-grown militant outfits like Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team.
Meanwhile, doctors at Apollo Hospitals in the capital kept Saifuzzaman, 42, under observation.
His wife Sonia Sultana said doctors operated on her husband yesterday. With injuries in his shoulder, neck, chest and hands, he was flown to Dhaka by an air ambulance soon after the attack.
Police and locals said Sanaur and Saifuzzaman were on a bike on way to the homeopath's home at Shishirmath village around 10:45am when three youths aged between 25 and 30 intercepted them at Bottoli.
The assailants forced the two to get down from the vehicle, hacked them repeatedly and left the scene within less than a minute.
The victims are known to be ardent lovers of Baul philosophy. Sanaur used to arrange Baul programmes at his village home, around six kilometres away from Kushtia town. He would strongly oppose use of amulet to ward off diseases, according to locals.
Some Bauls said Sanaur was a good man and they received treatment from him for free. “I went to Sanaur's village several times to sing. I never had any problems,” said one of them.
There has been a sense of insecurity among the followers of Baul philosophy in Kushtia following the attack, said a Baul singer, who wished not to be named fearing attacks on him.
Including Sanaur, at least 12 people have been hacked to death in similar fashion so far this year.
Earlier, the IS had claimed responsibility for the killings of Jhenidah homeopaths Jamiruddin Khaza and Abdur Razzak, Panchagarh Hindu priest Jogeswar Dasadhikari, Kurigram Christian convert Hossain Ali, Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee of Rajshahi University and Tangail Hindu tailor Nikhil Joardar.
Sanaur's elder brother Anisur Rahman yesterday filed a case with Kushtia Police Station, accusing four unnamed people.
Anisur said his brother had no enmity with anyone. As a homeopath, he had been treating poor people for the last 25 years for free.
Saifuzzaman's wife Sonia said they would file a case for the attack on her husband.
However, police were yet to find a clue to the attack. Proloy Chisim, superintendent of Kushtia police, said they were probing the incident keeping in mind all probable motives.
About the IS's claim, the SP said they will investigate it.
Sanaur was buried in Kushtia Poura Graveyard around noon yesterday after an autopsy at Kushtia General Hospital in the morning.
Our Kushtia correspondent contributed to this report.