Hindu ashram volunteer murdered in Bangladesh

Dhaka: A volunteer at a Hindu ashram in Bangladesh was murdered on Friday, apparently by suspected Islamists, the media reported. Nityaranjan Pandey, 60, was attacked on the neck and head from behind while on his morning walk at Hemayetpur in Pabna district, police as well as ashram officials were quoted as saying.  Bdnews24.com said Pandey had been with the Thakur Anukul Chandra Satsanga Paramtirtha Hemayetpurdham Ashram for some 40 years. He was found murdered only 200 yards from the ashram and near the Pabna Mental Hospital's main gate. The nature of the hacking indicated that the assailants were trying to decapitate Pandey. His stunned colleagues said Pandey used to take an early morning walk daily as he was a diabetic. An NGO activist, Naresh Madhu, told journalists: "(Pandey) was one of us. He was a simple man who had no enemies." Madhu suspected that Islmists were behind Pandey's murder. But police officer Selim Khan said: "We'll look into all possible aspects. We can't say right now if it was a militant attack." Pandey's killing comes days after a Christian grocer was killed in Natore on June 5 and a Hindu priest in Jhenaidah two days later. Islamists were suspected in both cases. A number of murders carried out in similar fashion across the country in the past two years have sparked public outrage. The victims of these attacks include secular writers and bloggers, online activists, foreigners, members of various religious minorities and rights activists. Pandey’s murder took place around the same time when police launched a seven-day crackdown on militants throughout Bangladesh. The Middle East-based militant groups Islamic State and al Qaeda had reportedly claimed credit for many of the killings. But the government has rejected their claim and said home-grown terrorists were to blame.