Wednesday, July 24

Shahjahan Bhuiya, executioner who became famous on TikTok, dies in Bangladesh

Shahjahan Bhuiya, who became famous for executing some of Bangladesh’s most infamous criminals in exchange for reduced sentences for his own crimes, and later gained brief fame on TikTok, died on Monday in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka.

The National Police announced on Tuesday that the cause of his death, which occurred in hospital, had not yet been confirmed. Abul Kashem, Bhuiya’s owner, said he took Bhuiya to the hospital on Sunday after Bhuiya felt chest pains.

Last year, Bhuiya told local media that he was 74, but his national identity card, provided by Kashem, indicated that he was 66 at the time of his death.

Bhuiya was originally sentenced to 42 years in prison for robbery and murder in 1991. However, thanks to good behavior and his role in the execution of other prisoners, he managed to reduce his sentence by a decade, which led to his early release last year.

In his memoirs, “What Life Was Like as an Executioner,” Bhuiya recounted executing 60 inmates, although prison officials corrected this number to 26. Among those he executed were individuals who had made a significant impact on the history of Bangladesh, including military officers convicted of the assassination of the country’s founder, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, in 1975, and Siddiqul Islam, leader of an Islamic militant group involved in the 2005 attacks.

Bhuiya also executed opposition leaders Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, convicted of war crimes during the 1971 war for independence from Pakistan.

Bhuiya’s TikTok fame began after her release from prison. Her videos often featured suggestive conversations with young women, attracting considerable attention online.

Born on January 1, 1958, Bhuiya was from a village in Narsingdi district in central Bangladesh, according to his identity card, and had three sisters. He briefly joined the army, but left after failing the training program. He later became the president of the Narsingdi district branch of the Bangladesh Communist Party.

The details of his conviction for robbery and murder remain unclear, but he was released in June 2023, ten years early. Dhaka Central Prison jailer Mahbubul Islam said Bhuiya’s sentence was reduced due to his good behavior and role in the executions, resulting in a two-month reduction for each executed prisoner.

Prison official Suvas Kumar Ghose noted that prisoners could reduce their sentences by up to a quarter through activities such as executions. Executioners in Bangladesh, typically long-term prisoners, receive incentives such as improved prison accommodation.

Although Bangladesh sentences hundreds of people to death each year, only a handful of executions are carried out each year. According to Amnesty International, there were approximately 2,400 prisoners on death row this year.

In addition to his TikTok activities, Bhuiya ran a tea stall. His sister, Firoza Begum, said she had minimal contact with him over the years and that their other siblings had died.

Bhuiya expressed mixed feelings about his role as an executioner, saying he felt some pity for those he executed, but believed someone else would have done it if he hadn’t. After his release, he compared his newfound freedom to being “a baby out of my mother’s womb” and expressed a desire to live well.