Bangladeshi blogger who sought refuge in Kolkata found dead in Berlin flat

| TNN | Dec 21, 2018, 08:47 IST
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KOLKATA: The recovery of the body of Bangladeshi blogger Arpita Roychowdhury (23) from an apartment in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday has come as a shock to expatriates and secularists, continuing to live in Bangladesh and facing threats from fundamentalists.

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Arpita, whose real name was Tamalika Singha, had first left Bangladesh for Kolkata in 2016 after the Gulshan attack.


In 2017, when TOI had met Arpita, she had recounted how she had returned to Bangladesh thereafter to find the situation had worsened. Her family was under threat and she was unable to continue with her studies. She left Bangladesh again, this time, with her younger sister and stayed in Kolkata for a while. She tried to get herself and her sister admitted to educational institutes here, but failed as they didn’t have the clearances. “I have been writing on discrimination against women, children and the minority community in Bangladesh since 2012. In 2014, I joined Nobojug Blog. Apart from threats of being abducted, raped and killed, I suffered harassment in public. Fundamentalists and ruling party members hurled abuses at me. Even my younger sister was tormented due to my writings,” she had told TOI.


Arpita had said her ordeal started even before she started writing. This was, she had claimed, because she belonged to the minority community. “Soon after my higher secondary examinations, I joined a computer science class but they would follow me there. One day, they entered my class and sexually abused me. I slapped one of them. In retaliation, my house was attacked and had to face a Shariat court that branded my activities ‘unladylike’,” Arpia had said. After she started blogging, miscreants followed her on a motorcycle and apparently even attempted to murder her.


Arpita was finally invited to Berlin as a fellow of the German Writers in Exile programme and left for the country in December 2017. According to another blogger, who also lives in exile, Arpita was depressed as she was constantly worried about her family back in Netrokona, Bangladesh. She called up a fellow blogger on the night of December 12 but he was unable to answer. There was no reply when he called her back the next morning. He also went to her apartment but found the lights switched off. He finally contacted the authorities. “She had faced a lot in the few years of her life. Taunted, tortured and hounded, she finally made it to Germany but was not happy. Her mind was with her family back home. She retreated into a shell and had not been in contact with anybody since December 12. She was worried about her sister. She had started believing she had committed a crime by deserting them to their fate. On Wednesday, her body was found in her apartment. The probe is on. It’s still not known whether her body will be sent back home or not,” the fellow blogger said.
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