Kolkata: India has always given asylum to people who have been targeted for their freedom of expression in their respective countries. But then there are exceptions. Here we are talking about a person, who after being attacked in his own country reached India, took asylum and is now involved in spreading hatred and is even making money out of it. Meet Sunnyur Rahman, a resident of, Nakhal Para, Dhaka, Bangladesh. A self professed atheist, who was part of the famous Shahbag movement in Bangladesh. After being attacked by fundamentalist, he went into hiding.
The atheist blogger, who was once lauded by many for his rationalist approach and bravery during the Shahbag movement, is gradually being distanced by many, even from the atheist circle of Bengal.
Rahman, once proudly claimed in his video, in 2013, “I am a proud atheist. Thank God I am an atheist.” But now shares videos, where he is seen pleading for ‘ghar wapasi’, rejoicing on becoming a Sanatani Hindu and then stating how his Hindu brethren in India are exploited especially in Bengal. So Rahman is now Satyanisth Arya and he often posts videos, which are not against religious bigotry but have a communal in tone. On his line of attacks now are not religious beliefs but community, to be precise Muslims and the Bengali Hindus, whom he in many videos of his declare as meek people, who prefer boot licking the Muslims.
His date of entry into the Indian Territory is unclear, but Sunnyur Rahman began resurfacing on social media with videos of a different hue since 2016.
Several videos made by him are available on Google, Youtube, and Facebook. They have either been uploaded by Sunnyur himself or by some channel or by unknown individuals. Significantly, Sunnyur is not on work permit in India but in several of his videos and cartoons, he has shared his Paytm number, asking people to donate. Most of these videos often target the Chief Minister of Bengal or mock the Muslims of India. He uploaded his last video on December 30, 2017, where he shared the news of two other atheist bloggers Asad Nur and Lemon Fakir joining him in India.
Watch the video on Sunnyur
The tonality of recent videos is making his supporters distance from him. “Atheism is an ideology which questions the existence of God. Once an atheist, you are always an atheist. All of a sudden you can’t switch from atheism to theism,” said Prabir Ghosh, co-founder of Kolkata-based Bharatiya Bigyan O Yuktibadi Samiti, a science and rationalists’ association.
On being asked, what could be the reason behind Sunnyur’s change of tune, Satyajit Chatterjee, general secretary of Humanist Association said, “We had welcomed him when he had arrived in India. In fact we were supporting him when he was in Bangladesh, during the Shahbag movement. We keep following his videos, and off late have also witnessed his change in tune. His videos, definitely try to create a Hindu-Muslim divide, which is not acceptable, that’s definitely not the job of an atheist. It seems evident that he has drifted from his ideology.” He then added, “Going by the content he now shares, we condemn what he is doing now.”
Another atheist who has been following Sunnyur’s movement in Bengal is Soibal Dasgupta. He stated, “I have been following Sunnyur Rahman’s videos (both presently online and deleted) since the time I had covered the activities of the Sangh. It is quite evident that he is neither an atheist nor a theist but an opportunist who is using his place of asylum to earn a living by pitting the communities against each other.”
Dasgupta, who has also studied theology added, “As an atheist, I do empathise with him for what had happened in Bangladesh but not at the expense of disrupting peace and harmony in my country. What the Islamic fundamentalists couldn’t do, Sunnyur did it himself— murdering the rationalist Sunnyur Rahman.”
eNewsroom also contacted a senior journalist from Dhaka, Nuruzzaman Labu, who shared, “Sunnyur has a wife, her name is Afia Islam. Bangladesh government is aware of the fact that he is in India, but they do not know, what he is doing there.”
Well known social activist Kavita Shrivastava, who has always stood for freedom of expression, and supported authors be it for Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen, when they were opposed in India, said on Sunnyur, “I am all for freedom of speech. But what Sunnyur is doing is not acceptable, especially, releasing videos full of hate speeches and seeking funds through Paytm. There is no transparency of the funds he is getting. Such people should be booked under IT (Information Technology) act and CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) and IPC (Indian Penal Code) sections for hate speeches.”
Kolkata Police seemed to have knowledge of Sunnyur’s activities, but they are yet to take action. Pravin Tripathi, DC, Kolkata, said, “Our cyber crime department will be looking into the matter.” Interestingly, a source in the cyber crime cell revealed, on condition of anonymity, that the police had noticed Sunnyur being active at the time of Baduria riots and had been warned, following which he had deleted many of his videos and had disappeared. He added, “We thought that he had left for good. We had no clue that he is back. The possibility of him being used by some political party cannot be ruled out.”