Paris-based Bangladeshi citizen Pinaki Bhattacharya is a trained medical doctor. Born in 1967, he is the eldest son of Shyamal Bhattacharya, a cultural personality and former eminent teacher of Bogra District School. While Pinaki does not happen to practise medicine now, he runs a pharmaceutical business. Pinaki Bhattacharya is Paris-based Bangladeshi blogger and social activist. He is also an adjunct faculty member at American International University Bangladesh (AIUB). He teaches environmental toxicology there.
In his early days, Pinaki was involved in Leftist student movement. He has authored 18 books on Bangladesh’s political history and other topics. Now, he is a popular online activist. His Facebook profile is followed by over 200,000 people. He is also active on Twitter. His online write-ups on Bangladesh’s political history, society, current politics, persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar and other related human rights-related issues in Bangladesh and neighboring countries are popular among students, fellow activists and others.
In 2018, Bangladesh launched an anti-drug campaign. The security forces shot dead the suspected drug traders in controversial “cross-fires”. Pinaki criticised the extrajudicial killing of the suspects during the operations. During the 2018 quota reform movement by senior students and the mass protests by school children demanding improved road safety, Pinaki wrote many Facebook posts and tweets some of which highlighted the reports of violent attacks on the non-violent protesters by pro-government groups.
Pinaki has long used Facebook, Twitter, and his blogs to criticize the current regime of Sheikh Hasina for its alleged corruption and human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. His posts and tweets are often critical of the government in Bangladesh and the ruling party of Awami League. He received many online death threats.
On August 5, 2018, when the students were in demonstration demanding safe road in Bangladesh and internationally acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam was arrested by police, military intelligence officials called up Pinaki and asked him to come down to their headquarters in Dhaka. The officials did not explain why they wanted to meet him. There are instances in which military intelligence officials in Bangladesh sent for many people known for their dissenting views. The intelligence officials threatened them with dire consequences if they did not stop criticising the government. Some even disappeared after they met the intelligence officials.
Pinaki did not go to meet the military intelligence officials that day and went into hiding. The intelligence officials raided the residence and office of Pinaki in Dhaka several times, apparently looking for him. They even placed his residence under round-the-clock surveillance. While he was in hiding in Bangladesh, the authorities placed a ban on his departure from the country. However, with the help of some friends, Pinaki managed to sneak out of the country and reached Bangkok in January 2019.
Two months later, he reached France where he has got a political asylum now. Based in Paris, Pinaki is pursuing higher studies at Sorbonne University.