WARNING: This post contains graphic images. Discretion is advised.
A Canadian woman says she fears for the life of her husband after he was seriously injured last week in the latest attack by religious extremists on secular bloggers and writers in Bangladesh.
Monika Mistry said her husband, Tareq Rahim, was hacked multiple times in the head, hands and torso and was shot in the stomach. His condition has improved but he remains in critical condition, with a bullet still inside his body. Mistry’s afraid he could be attacked again.
Rahim, she said, was meeting with writer friends Saturday afternoon in the office of Shuddhashar publishing house, in capital city Dhaka, when a purported group of Islamist extremists stormed in and began hacking them with machetes and cleavers. “They didn’t even talk. They just started stabbing them,” she said.
Mistry said it’s hard for her to even look at photos of her husband’s wounds, but she agreed to share the images with Global News.
Shuddhashar owner Ahmed Rahim Tutul and writer Randeep Basu were also seriously injured in the attack.
Mistry had spoken with her husband just four hours before a friend in London, England called her in the middle of the night to let her know about the attack.
She said she feels powerless to be on the other side of the world while her husband is fighting for his life. Mistry, a Bangladeshi who came to Canada in 2006 and now lives in Montreal with her daughter from a previous marriage, said she can’t afford to go back to Bangladesh to be with Rahim.
“I can’t be there. I can’t see him, I can’t touch him, I can’t hear from him,” the 37-year-old woman said, struggling to keep her composure.
Mistry said she wants her 32-year-old husband to be in Canada, where interfaith marriage is more accepted; she’s from a Hindu family, he’s from a Muslim one.
This attack and another one just hours later are the most recent in a series of violent assaults since February when Islamic extremists murdered atheist Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy.
Roy was hacked to death while walking with wife outside a book fair on the Dhaka University Campus. His wife, Rafida Bonya Ahmed also suffered wounds and reportedly lost a thumb in the attack.
In a separate attack on Saturday, just hours after Rahim was seriously wounded, 43-year-old Faisal Arefin Deepan was killed in the office of his Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house.
Both Jagriti Prokoshoni and Shuddhashar publishing houses had published Roy’s works.
More attacks to come?
Mistry fears Rahim’s life will continue to be at risk because he survived the attack and the assailants are waiting to finish the job.
“These killers, they’re on the street. You don’t know, maybe they’re walking around the hospitals because they couldn’t fulfill their mission. They wanted these people dead, but they’re not dead,” she said.
There aren’t a lot of options for the government to step in to help Rahim because he’s still in Bangladesh, according to Halifax Refugee Clinic executive director Julie Chamagne.
She said what likely needs to happen is for a letter to be written to the minister of citizenship, refugees and immigration (Markham-Thornhill MP John McCallum) to expedite the processing of Mistry’s application for her husband to be granted residency, or for him to request a temporary resident permit while applying to live here permanently.
The Centre for Inquiry (CFI) Canada, a non-profit education organization, is leading calls for the newly elected Trudeau government to intervene in the case.
“CFI Canada is making an appeal to the Canadian government, and certainly Justin Trudeau, to ask for some compassionate support for someone who would have likely been coming to Canada if they hadn’t been attacked by terrorists before getting a chance to do that,” said Executive Director Eric Adriaans.
Mistry just hopes anyone who has the power will do what they can to help ensure her husband’s to safety.
“This is the most difficult thing that one can go through,” she said.
Global News reached out to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Liberal Party but did not receive responses in time for publication.