The government is failing to fulfill its duty to protect its citizens.

This is the main lesson that can be drawn from Saturday’s brutal murder of Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique in Rajshahi.

Fanatics are pursuing a single-minded campaign to target secular writers and intellectuals for cold-blooded murder in Bangladesh. And the government is failing to stop them.

It didn’t matter to Professor Siddique’s killers that his colleagues say he was not active in politics and was alert not to hurt religious sentiments. Or that his cousin says Professor Siddique donated to many mosques and madrassas.

What matters is that religious extremists claimed he was involved in “calling to atheism” and say that this gives justification for killers to act as judge, jury, and executioner.

Not only has the government failed to stop such killings or bring the perpetrators to justice, it has appeased their supporters by pointing fingers at victims and feeding the mind-set that people need to watch what they say and write, or suffer the consequences.

It doesn’t matter what the victim’s beliefs were. It does not matter what anyone says or writes. It is never acceptable to kill someone for his or her words.

It doesn’t matter what the victim’s killers claim as reasons to justify their actions.

What matters is that such fanatics are targeting individuals in Bangladesh to be slaughtered in public in cold blood. And they are acting with impunity.

They are murderers who need to be brought to justice.

It doesn’t matter whether they are from transnational terrorist groups like IS as they have claimed, or part of locally based militant networks, as the government argues.

Their aim is to create fear and hatred. They need to be stopped.

Appeasement will not stop such murders. The government must catch the killers and fulfill its duty to protect all citizens.

This article first appeared on the Dhaka Tribune website.