In an alarming development, politically motivated and extra-judicial murders are on the rise in Bangladesh.
According to police figures, between 6 January (the day after the elections) and today, at least 138 people were killed or found dead.
Of these, 32 were leaders and political activists, most of them from within the ranks of the opposition.
Human rights activists are sounding the alarm about the rise in political assassinations, particularly among the ranks of the opposition. Many murders are at the hands of the police, which has refused to comment the allegations. In 2013, nearly 4,400 people have died.
Among the latest victims, 11 are from the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), nine from the opposition Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party, nine from the ruling Awami League and three from the Jatiya Party (a member of the ruling alliance).
The list includes a leader in the Juba League, the BNP youth wing, who was stabbed to death two days ago in his home by unidentified assailants.
The day before, three activists with the Jamaat-e-Islami and its youth wing, Chhatra Shibir, died shot by police.
Sultana Kamal, executive director of the observatory on human rights Ain-o-Salish Kendra, condemned the “targeted” killings by law enforcement, insisting on a “resolution of conflicts of all kinds and gravity through due judicial and constitutional process”.
The human rights group said they had recorded at least 15 incidents of extrajudicial killing this month alone.
When asked about the allegations regarding political killings, Inspector General of Police Hassan Mahmood Khandkar declined to comment. Instead, he told the New Age newspaper, “I believe the members of law enforcement agencies are performing their duties legally in conducting countrywide operations”.
Still, police figures indicate that the situation is very serious: 2013 was the most turbulent year in the last decade with 4,393 recorded murders.
And in recent months, things have actually been getting worse with at least 376 murders in September, 353 in October, 354 in November and 404 in December.
Before 5 January, the opposition was accused of involvement in acts of violence, like general strikes (hartal) and road blocks (oborodh), this according to Ashraful Alam, chairman of criminology and police science at Maulana Bhashani Science and Technology University.
Now however, even though opposition parties have not been involved in any of them since the elections, murders continue.