Guest Post by KHUSHI KABIR
Very soon after Professor Rezaul Karim Siddque of Rajshahi Univeristy was hacked to death in the morning of April 23, 2016, I wrote my feelings, my frustrations, my concerns and my fears. From all the information we received, Professor Karim appeared to be a quiet man, a man who was of a peaceful nature, a lover of music and a committed teacher. As is the case with most Bangalis, he loved music. Cultural activities were in his bloodstream. He tried to, or did set up a cultural hub in his home, where he lived, not too far from the University where he taught. He was not a declared atheist, nor a blogger, not even an armchair or facebook activist. Not one of the usual argumentative Bangalis, the usual picture of the intellectual. Not one of those who were in the frontlines of activism, not a talk show star, not one who wrote long opinions and editorials about the state of affairs of the country. Why would he be killed?
We read from the reports that we get from all the different forms of media that exists, that he was what I often describe as the typical example of a citizen of this land, the kind of people I grew up with, secular in his thinking by encouraging culture, music, playing his favourite sitar, reading books, yet sensitive and responsive to the practice of religion of the people he lived amongst, his family perhaps, certainly his neighbours. We heard of his large donations to the building of the local mosque as a proof of this perception. His daughter has been very vehement in stating that he was a believer. I find it very telling on our current state of affairs that we have to insist that we are all believers. Why should it matter? A murder is a murder and a gruesome murder has to be taken in all seriousness no matter what one’s beliefs are or where one stands. We all grew up learning to sing, dance, play an instrument, and write poetry, recite etc. Where else do we find that recitation is considered a part of cultural practice, a part of the performing arts? Was his fault that he embodied this very nature of the Bangali? Was he murdered so brutally simply to be used as an example of what not to be? Was he simply targeted because he embodied the very spirit of 1952, of 1971 in the quiet nature of his being?