Violence, fraud mark Bangladesh municipal polls

BNP-backed councillor-elect killed in Sirajganj

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:50, Jan 16,2021 | Updated: 23:59, Jan 16,2021


One Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed councillor candidate was killed and dozens were injured  in electoral violence in the second phase of the municipal elections held in 60 municipalities on Saturday, which was tainted by violence, rigging, intimidation and other irregularities.

Ruling Awami League candidates bagged most of the mayoral posts.

Raising allegations of irregularities or protesting attacks by AL activists, many BNP mayoral candidates, a large number of councillor candidates backed by the party and some independent councillor candidates boycotted the polls hours after the voting kicked off at 8:00am.

According to the New Age correspondent in Sirajganj, BNP-backed councillor-elect Tariqul Islam was killed in an attack allegedly by the defeated candidate’s supporters.

Locals said that a group of supporters of Shahadat Hossain, AL ward unit general secretary, had made an attack in the Natun Vangabaro area in the town after the unofficial result was declared.

Confirming the matter Sadar police inspector (investigation) M Golam Mustafa said that Tariqul had been injured critically during the clash between two groups of supporters.

Later a physician declared Tariqul dead at a local hospital, police said.

Dozens of people, including BNP and AL supporters, police personnel and Ansar members were injured in clashes in various municipal areas during and after the vote.

Election commissioner Mahbub Talukdar said that the municipal elections that were held on Saturday could not be called a participatory exercise as polling agents and campaign materials of opposition candidates were absent in many electoral areas.

‘I visited 18 polling booths at three centres in Savar municipality till 1:00pm Saturday. In the booths, 1,232 of the 7,311 votes were cast and I found opposition polling agents at three of those booths,’ Mahbub said in a written statement.

He said that he also had not found any poster of opposition candidates in the municipal area.

On the other hand, addressing a post-vote press conference, EC secretary M Alamgir said that the elections were held peacefully except some isolated incidents.

He said that people had cast their ballots willingly in a festive mood.

Giving reaction over the polling, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said that AL activists had captured voting centres in most of the municipalities.

In a press conference at the Gulshan office of the party chairperson, Mosharraf said that ruling party people barred the agents of BNP candidates from entering polling centres.

In many places, they forced them to leave the centres and prevented BNP supporters from going to polling stations, Mosharraf added.

AL general secretary Obaidul Quader said that people had responded to the BNP’s falsehood over the elections during the AL rule by exercising their franchise in a huge number amid festivity and enthusiasm in the second phase of the municipal elections.

The BNP, he said, is not getting any support for their evil attempts to make the country’s election system questionable as the people do not believe in its falsehood any longer.

According to the New Age correspondent in Gaibandha, locals blocked the election equipment, including ballot papers, at a centre of ward-9 of Gaibandha town.

Later they got engaged in clashes with the members of law enforcement agencies, including police, RAB and Border Guard Bangladesh.

Rubber bullets were fired to bring the situation under control. A government vehicle was set on fire and three others were vandalised allegedly by locals.

The clashes started around 6:00pm and continued for several hours, said Gaibandha superintendent of police Touhidul Islam.

Locals complained that the administration had wanted to take the ballot papers to the Gaibandha election office without announcing the results at the centre after counting the votes.

Despite many requests, they did not want to announce the results at the centre, they said.

At one stage, when the locals tried to take control of the ballot papers the clash started.

Our correspondent in Rajshahi reports: BNP candidate Abdur Razzak boycotted the election after he was allegedly barred from casting his vote in the election at Bhabaniganj municipality under Bagmara upazila.

Abdur Razzak alleged that he could not cast his own vote as the supporters of the AL mayoral candidate Abdul Malek prevented him from entering the Shahid Sekendar Memorial High School centre at around 08:30am.

Our correspondent in Pabna says: Voting ended in four municipalities in Pabna amid various irregularities and many boycotts.

BNP mayoral candidate Rafiqul Islam Nayan boycotted the election, raising allegations of vote rigging, beating, expulsion from the centre, forced sealing of the boat symbol and occupying polling centres by ruling party activists.

He announced the boycott decision in a press conference at his residence at around 1.15pm.

When he went, he alleged, to the Islamia Madrassah centre in the morning to cast his vote, AL supporters beat him up in front of police personnel.

‘They later beat up some of my staff and snatched a motorcycle,’ he added.

No action was taken even after they informed the Election Commission of the matter, he went on, adding that he has therefore boycotted what he said the unconstitutional vote.

Rejecting the allegations, AL candidate Ishaque Ali Malitha said that locals staged protests when BNP candidate Nayan and his followers were trying to enter a voting centre for women.

Santhia municipality BNP mayoral candidate Sirajul Islam Siraj alleged that he had come under attack by Awami League candidate’s supporters at the Santhia Pilot School centre.

Our IU Correspondent in Kushtia reports: Police arrested two fake voters from Ward-8 in the Tebaria area of Kumarkhali upazila in Kushtia.

The arrested were identified as Mamunur Rahman, 14, son of Dulal, and Shajal Ahmed, 16, son of Liton Hossain, both residents of Tebaria village.

Executive magistrate MA Muhaimeen Al Jihan said that the duo went to the ward-8 for casting votes showing their smart NID cards.

Presiding officer Khairul Islam caught them red-handed as the smart NID cards they showed were fake, Jihan said.

They handed over the boys to police, adding that legal action will be taken against them after the municipality elections are completed, he added.

A journalist was orally abused allegedly by Awami league candidate Abdul Gani’s son Kamrul Hasan Shahin at Tangail Cadet Academy in the Bank Colony when he was covering the election in the Savar municipality.

Kamrul also snatched the cell phone of Sagar Farazi of the news portal when he was videoing voters’ comments at the centre at 8:30am, witnesses said.

Our Jashore correspondent reports: BNP Mongla Port mayoral candidate Zulfiqar Ali boycotted the election, bringing allegations of vote rigging and the occupying of polling centres by ruling party people.

Our correspondent in Jhenidah says: A group of unidentified people vandalised the car of AL rebel mayoral candidate of Shailkupa municipality Tayebur Rahman in front of Jhaudia Government Primary School.

Tayebur alleged that the attack was carried out by supporters of AL candidate Kazi Ashraful Alam.

Our correspondent in Feni reports: At least four persons, including an Ansar member, were injured in a crude bomb explosion in front of a polling centre in Dagonbhuiyan.

The explosion took place in front of the Ganipur Government Primary School centre at around 10:00am, reports a correspondent.

Our correspondent in Tangail reports: BNP mayoral candidate of Dhanbari municipality SMA Sobhan and independent candidate Moniruzzaman alleged that supporters of AL candidate Manjurul Islam had ousted their polling agents from various centres.

The first phase of the polls held on December 28, 2020 was also marred by rigging, low turnout and intimidation.

In the polls, AL candidates won 18 municipalities of the 23 mayor posts.

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