The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party candidates for the December 30 parliamentary elections are worried about cases and arrests as some of them have been arrested since November 28, the deadline for filing nomination papers.
The party alleged that arrest of its candidates, leaders and activists continued across the country despite prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s assurance that no political activists would be arrested after announcement of the schedule of the 11th parliamentary elections.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press conference at the party chairperson’s Gulshan office on Friday that 537 BNP leaders and activists had been arrested since announcement of the schedule on November 8.
He said that all the party candidates who filed nomination papers were implicated in cases and more than 100 cases were filed against him.
Besides Thakurgaon 1 constituency, Fakhrul also filed nomination papers for Bogura 6 as an alternative to jailed BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia fearing that her nomination might be cancelled.
For 295 of the 300 constituencies, 696 BNP candidates primarily filed nomination papers. BNP employment affairs assistant secretary Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan, who filed nomination papers for Khagrachhari, told New Age that he was in fear of arrest as he was facing 32 cases.
He said that recently the High Court rejected his appeal for staying his conviction in a corruption case filed in 2007 during the military-controlled interim regime.
Abdul Wadud, elected lawmaker from Khagrachhari twice, alleged that he could not move freely in fear ‘police harassment’.
BNP joint secretary general Khairul Kabir Khokon, who filed nomination papers for Narsingdi 1, was sent to jail by a Narsingdi court on Thursday rejecting his bail petition.
A Dhaka court on Thursday day remanded BNP candidate for Dhaka 7 Mosharef Hosain Khokon in police custody for two days for interrogation.
He was picked up by law enforcers on November 28 after filing nomination papers, alleged BNP.
BNP candidate Monowar Hossain Khan in Magura was also arrested, the party alleged. BNP vice-chairman AZM Zahid Hossain, who filed nomination papers for Mymensingh 4 said that although he secured bail in all the 51 cases against him, could not move freely fearing arrest in ‘fictitious’ cases.
BNP candidate for Mymensingh 1 Syed Emran Saleh Prince, also BNP organising secretary, said that he had to move in fear as police always watched his movement.
Jailed BNP chief Khaleda Zia filed nomination papers for Bogura 6, Bogura 7 and Feni 1. Her candidature continued hanging in the balance for her conviction in two graft cases following recent Supreme Court ruling that convicted people could not contest polls during pendency of their appeals.
Former Supreme Court Bar Association president Khandker Mahbub Hossain urged the government not to arrest anyone before the elections and release all arrested political leaders and activists.
The senior lawyer said that they would take legal courses to free the arrested leaders and activists.
Fakhrul told the press conference that 537 leaders and activists of BNP and its front and associate organisations had been arrested, including 132 in Dhaka city, after the announcement of the schedule.
He said that 74 leaders and activists were arrested, mostly in Dhaka city, in November 26-30.
The BNP secretary general asked how elections could be held amid continued arrests of opposition leaders and activists.
He mentioned that the chief election commissioner recently said that the police were going by his instructions.
Fakhrul said that BNP could not understand what consequences of the elections would be as submission of charge sheet in ‘fictitious’ cases started.
He asked the government to stop arrest in fictitious cases and release those who were arrested otherwise the government and the Election Commission would need to bear all responsibilities for any consequences.
He alleged that the commission was following the order of the prime minister and the government for holding a unilateral ‘farce’ in the name of election.
People already began to doubt if elections would be held at all, Fakhrul said, adding that a BNP delegation would go to the commission in a day or two.
He said that the commission paid no heed to their complaints and demands.
He said that Narayanganj the replacement of superintendent of police, whose wife was a lawmaker, by Gazipur superintendent of police Harun Or Rashid meant ‘from danger to more danger.’
Asked whether BNP would finally stay in the election race, he said they were taking part in the elections for staying in the race.
He said that the ruling Awami League candidates violated the electoral code of conduct during filing of the nomination papers and even the prime minister violated the code making provocative statements, but BNP candidates were being arrested, abducted and subjected to enforced disappearance.
Fakhrul said that the lower court was totally under the grip of the government and even some orders of the High Court were creating obstacle to fair polls.