11TH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Raids, attacks mark end of campaign

Tapos Kanti Das, Ahammad Foyez and Muktadir Rashid | Published: 00:00, Dec 28,2018 | Updated: 11:55, Dec 28,2018

 
 

An army man walks inside a barrack at Dania in Dhaka on Thursday as the country goes to polls Sunday. — Abdullah Apu

Election campaigns for the 11th general election ended 8:00am on Friday amid widespread allegations of attacks, arrests and intimidation of opposition activists as well as violation of electoral code of conduct.
Many opposition candidates, especially those of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, alleged that they were isolated from their activists by police and ruling Awami League activists, with only two days left before the polls on December 30.
Candidates of ruling Awami League and its allies conducted relentless campaigns until night on Thursday while BNP and its alliance candidates at many places alleged that they even could not go out of home for electioneering amid obstacles by police and activists of their political opponents and that there was no level playing field.
On Thursday, election campaigns by Jatiya Oikya Front candidate and former state minister Abu Sayeed in Pabna and Jatiya Party candidate Mahmudul Islam in Chattogram came under attack.
The national elections are going to be held under a partisan government with participation of all 39 registered political parties while the 10th parliamentary elections was held on January 5, 2014, amid boycott by most parties including BNP demanding an election-time non-party caretaker government.
Reports received from districts said electioneering and campaign materials including posters of BNP as well as Jatiya Oikya Front candidates were not visible in the respective electoral areas during the electioneering since December 10.
Candidates of ruling alliance in almost all constituencies conducted massive electioneering by bringing out processions and expressed their firm belief that they would win due to their ‘development activities’ in the past 10 years.
Though candidates of the main opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front, of which BNP is the main component, could rarely conduct showdowns allegedly due to obstructions, they expressed their belief that the people would come out to vote against ‘misrule’ of the incumbents and they would win.
Ruling AL claimed that there was festivity across the country centring the elections while opposition candidates alleged that there was no environment for fair election now and that Election Commission utterly failed to ensure level playing field.
Left Democratic Alliance also alleged that their candidates were attacked at places in the country since electioneering began and their campaigns were obstructed at many places.
Reports received from districts said that police and other law enforcement agencies conducted overnight raids at places and were going to opposition activists’ residence to arrest and threaten them.
A number of hotels in Dhaka were raided and inmates of privately run dormitories for students and bachelors were directed to leave by Thursday evening.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police, however, in its official news portal claimed that no such direction was given.
During the electioneering, at least 43 candidates of BNP and its allies were attacked in which at least a dozen candidates were seriously injured and 17 opposition candidates were arrested while High Court disqualified BNP candidates of 23 constituencies.
BNP claimed that a total of 64 of their candidates were attacked so far since beginning of electioneering while their activists were sued and arrested.
Clashes, especially between activists of AL and BNP, took place while attacks on opposition campaigners continued during the electioneering.
After announcement of the election schedule on November 8, at least nine AL activists were killed in election-related violence – seven of them in AL infighting and two allegedly by rival BNP activists – and two others during an attack on an election camp of CHT-based United Peoples’ Democratic Front-backed candidate in Khagrachhari.
In a press briefing at its central office in Dhaka on Thursday, BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi alleged that eight of their activists were killed and 12,588 injured in 2,716 attacks on the BNP and Jatiya Oikya Front since announcement of the election schedule.
He claimed that so far 9,202 of their activists were arrested and 806 ‘fictitious and false cases’ were filed against them in the last 22 days.
Rizvi alleged that the government used all-out force to drive out BNP and Jatiya Oikya Front of the election race and accused law enforcement agencies of direct involvement alongside the ruling AL men in the attacks on the opposition candidates and their supporters during electioneering.
BNP submitted more than 450 complaints to Election Commission and EC officials said most of the complaints were not investigated while its electoral enquiry committees found no veracity in most of the complaints they investigated.
Amid violence and attacks on opposition, the EC deployed army troops on December 24 but the opposition parties and candidates alleged that the deployment made no difference.
About the role of troops, election commissioner Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said that the armed forces would act only when the regular law enforcement agencies would fail to bring any untoward situation under control during the elections.
In Dhaka, all the AL-led alliance candidates ran campaigns, bringing out large processions and holding rallies in their respective constituencies on Thursday.
Fazle Noor Tapash, candidate for Dhaka 10, held mass contacts at Dhanamadi especially at road 27, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, candidate for Dhaka-12, held mass contacts at Tejgaon, Saber Hossain Chowdhury at Sabujbagh and Rashed Khan Menon at Anandabazar Railway Colony, Santibagh and Gopibagh area.
BNP candidates including Salah Uddin Ahmed of Dhaka 4 and Syed Abu Bakar Siddique of Dhaka 14 ran campaigns in their area.
BNP candidate for Dhaka 8 and its standing committee member Mirza Abbas at a news conference at his Shahjahanpur residence on Thursday said they were in the election race for the sake of democracy and as part of the movement to restore democracy despite repression by police and AL activists.
Rapid Action Battalion in a press release on Thursday said they beefed up security measures across the country.
RAB 2 officials said they conducted search in different hotels in the capital while posted additional security around in areas near BG Press in Tejgaon and Election Commission headquarters at Sher-e-Banglanagor.
New Age Correspondent in Pabna reported that the election campaign by JOF candidate for Pabna 1 Abu Sayeed came under attack again when his motorcade reached Selonda Bazar under Santhia. Sayeed, however, escaped unhurt but three of his activists were injured.
Sayeed claimed that the attackers opened fire and began vandalising cars when his motorcade reached Selonda Bazar and his fellows made a human shield to save him.
He claimed that he came under attacks for 17 times during his electioneering.
Officer-in-charge of Santhia Police Station Jahangir Hossain said there was a police protection team and the attackers came all on a sudden.
New Age Staff Correspondent in Chattogram reported that the motorcade of Jatiya Party candidate for Chattogram 16 Mahmudul Islam was attacked allegedly by followers of AL candidate Mostafizur Rahman in front of Green Park of Banshkhali Thursday afternoon, leaving 10 JP activists injured and three cars vandalised.
Mahmudul also alleged that miscreants vandalised his election camp and fired shots at Chonua Bazar under Banshkhali.
Besides, detectives arrested two BNP leaders from Tigerpass of Khulshi Chattogram early Thursday and seized 18 petrol bombs from their possession, said city detective branch of police deputy commissioner (north) Md Mizanur Rahman.
Jatiya Oikya Front candidate for Bogura 2 Mahmudur Rahman Manna alleged that police at night attempted to raid Naz Garden hotel where he was staying with family members for electioneering.
Police, however, told Manna that they came to the hotel to inquire whether he was had security problem.
Manna said he could not understand whether he was confined or would be arrested.
New Age correspondents reported that 34 leaders and activists of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami were arrested in Sylhet, 21 in Jashore, 79 in Satkhira and three elected local government representatives of BNP were arrested in Bogura since Wednesday night.
In Khulna city, both AL candidate Sheikh Salauddin Jewel and BNP candidate Nazrul Islam Manju of Khulna 2 constituency conducted their last time campaign on Thursday.
In Meherpur, miscreants hurled two crude bombs at the Cougaccha residence of Asaduzzaman Bablu, general secretary of Gangni upazila BNP, and fired shots Wednesday night, alleged his wife Tozbira Zaman.
Police were investigating the incident, said Harendra Nath Sarkar, officer-in-charge of Gangni Police Station.
Besides, miscreants torched an election campaign office of AL candidate for Meherpur 2 at village Bholadanga in Gangni early Thursday, the OC said.
New Age correspondent in Cox’s Bazar reported that the police dispersed JOF activists by charging batons and firing blanks at Kalur Dokan of the district town where they were on their way to district BNP office to attend an election rally of BNP candidate for Cox’s Bazar 2 Lutfor Rahman.
New Age correspondent in Tangail reported that Sayma Parvin Simmy, wife of detained BNP candidate for Tangail 2 Sultan Salauddin Tuku, in a press conference at Tangail Press Conference Thursday afternoon, alleged that AL activists were obstructing their electioneering and vandalised their main electioneering camp at Biramdhi under Bhuapur and vandalised and torched election camps at Jagutpura, Tepibari, Gobindashi and Dhopakandhi.
In Jhenaidah, police raided the house of BNP candidate Md Asaduzzaman for Jhehaidah 1 at Baraipara under Shailkupa early Thursday creating panic among his supporters and election campaigners.
‘The night-time raid at the government’s instruction intimidated BNP leaders and activists campaigning for me,’ Asaduzzaman told New Age.
BNP candidate for Barishal 5 Mojibor Rahman Sarwar alleged that police isolated him from his activists by arresting them and raiding their houses.
In a statement, Left Democratic Alliance coordinator Mohammad Shah Alam condemned the attack on campaigns on the alliance activists at places including campaign of Communist Party of Bangladesh candidate for Naogaon 4 Fazlur Rahman.
In a press release, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti on Thursday that security forces arrested three campaigners supporting PCJSS-backed independent candidate Ushatan Talukdar in Rangamati by putting firearms in their hands.
The country’s 299 constituencies out of 300 go to poll on December 30 as the election to Gaibandha 3 was suspended due to death of Jatiya Oikya Front candidate.
Following the postponement, the number of total polling stations now stands at 40,051.
As per the latest EC calculation, the total voters are 10,38,26,819 — 5,23,71,616 male and 5,14,55,203 female, EC said.
EC deputy secretary M Atiar Rahman said that as per the draft list of final candidature, some 1,849 candidates — 1,748 partisan and 101 independent — were contesting the polls.
He said that highest 259 of Islami Andolon Bangladesh candidates were contesting the polls while some 297 of BNP-led alliance and JOF, and 274 of AL-led alliance were contesting the polls.
EC on Thursday sent a letter to the authorities concerned to stop transaction through mobile and postal banking from 5:00pm today to 5:00pm on December 30.
The authorities already imposed a ban on unauthorised motorcycle from today midnight and other vehicles from Saturday midnight.
EC on Thursday started a three-day ‘mock voting’ through electronic voting machines in the six constituencies as part of preparation to use the machines instead of ballot papers in the parliamentary seats.
The six constituencies are Dhaka 6 and 13, Chattogram 9, Rangpur 3, Khulna 2 and Satkhira 2.

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