Avijit Roy’s Books Dropped from Bangladesh Book Fair; Police Shut Down Vendor

Nearly one year after Avijit Roy was murdered while leaving the Ekushey Book Fair in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Benar News reports that Roy’s books are not being sold by any of the 100 publishers at this year’s fair out of fear that could meet the same fate:

Nearly a year after secular writer and blogger Avijit Roy was stabbed to death by suspected militants during Bangladesh’s premier book festival, his works are no longer for sale in the South Asian country, publishing sources say.

About 100 publishers are participating in this year’s edition of the Ekushey Boi Mela (Ekushey Book Fair), which opened Monday – but none are selling books by Roy, who was murdered on a busy Dhaka street after leaving the event on Feb. 26, 2015.

Abul Bashar, an owner of Hatey Khori publication house, told BenarNews: “Why should we sell his books? Is there any guarantee that we will not meet similar fate?”

To make matters worse, the Dhaka Tribune reports:police have raided a stall at this year’s fair over concerns that books being sold by the vendor could hurt “religious sentiments.”

Police yesterday shut down yet another stall at the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela for selling a book with content that could hurt “religious sentiments” and detained three people in this connection.

In a raid, conducted around 4pm, led by Shahbagh police station officer-in-charge (OC) Abu Bakar Siddique, the stall of Badwip Prakashan, located at the Suhrawardy Udyan part of the fair, was shut down.

They also seized copies of several books including Islam Bitorko (the Islam debate), which is a  collection of essays compiled by Shamsuzzoha Manik, also owner of the publishing house.

The detainees are: Shamsuzzoha, Shamsul Alam, the stall’s manager, and Fakir Taslim Uddin Kajol, owner of the book’s printing press.

The Shahbagh OC said last night that they had detained Shamsul when he went to the police station after the stall was shut down. Later, they went to Shamsuzzoha’s Mirpur residence along with Shamsul, and detained the publisher from there. Meanwhile, another two-member team of police detained the printer from his office in Katabon.

Section 13.13 of the book fair “Rules and Regulations” booklet says that before closing a stall, authorities will give a deadline to the publisher for removing books with objectionable content. If the publisher fails to comply, then the authorities will close the stall.

However, the Dhaka Tribune has not found any evidence that could suggest that Badwip was given any such deadline or cautioned before the drive.

Until last evening, publisher Shamsuzzoha also could not be reached for a comment on if they were given any deadline.

The OC said they conducted the raid after they had found out on social media that people are complaining about the contents of Islam Bitorko.

Nobody from the organisers were accompanying the police team nor were any of them seen around during the raid or could be found for a comment.

We will be tracking this situation and provide updates as possible.