Shohagi Jahan Tonu (19), a student of Comilla Victoria Government College and a theater activist, met a tragic fate as she was brutally raped and murdered. Her body was discovered approximately 400 yards away from her residence, within the highly restricted Comilla Cantonment area on the night of March 20, 2016.
Despite two autopsies conducted at Comilla Medical College, the exact “cause of her death” initially remained undetermined. However, in May of the same year, CID officials confirmed, following DNA tests, that Tonu had been raped before her murder. No arrests have been made thus far in relation to this crime.
This incident sparked nationwide protests in Bangladesh and ignited a social media movement demanding justice. Demonstrators also questioned, how, despite being a practicing Muslim usually seen wearing the Islamic hijab, she could’ve been raped and killed.

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In Quest For Democracy & Identity

Turjoy Chowdhury | Bangladesh

Intricately weaving a larger canvas of the complex socio-political landscape of Bangladesh, the long-term project narrates an evolving journey of the nation's ongoing struggle to define democracy and its people’s identity.

Throughout this decade-long journey, the photographer stood witness to the rise of Islamic extremists, recurring assaults on religious and ethnic minorities, tragic loss of secular activists and bloggers, unendurable political violence, and even the unfolding of a full-fledged refugee crisis, deepening complexity of the context. Surpassing mere documentation, these photographs encapsulate the photographer’s lived reality as a native Bangladeshi and reveal how socio-political polarization gradually infiltrated people's psyche.

The echoes of the 1971 liberation war resonate throughout any discourse in Bangladesh, persistently shaping and evoking questions about the nation's contemporary social and political issues. From the costly independence from Pakistan to the subsequent decades, Bangladesh has dealt with a lot. The 80s and 90s bore witness to their own share of struggles - struggles for the democracy, freedom of speech, and basic rights. Despite bidding farewell to military governments, democracy in Bangladesh remains tenuous, while the threats to the very essence of democratic principles have loomed ever larger in recent years. Moreover, questions of identity have emerged as a significant aspect of socio-political debates - identity in terms of religion, culture, ethnicity, even gender and sexuality.

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