Attack, intimidation and arrests of activists of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, its allies and Left Democratic Alliance continued on Sunday, only six days ahead of the December 30 general election.
In the wake of violence and intimidation of opposition activists, troops were deployed across the country midnight past Sunday, a move welcomed by the opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front and its main component BNP.
Ruling Awami League candidates and their supporters, however, continued to carry on all-out campaigns seeking votes on the day while the opposition campaigners, in fear of arrest, are yet to start campaigns in full swing, according to reports received from districts and divisional headquarters. The reports, however, said that the number of oppositions’ campaigns increased on the day.
On Sunday, five Jatiya Oikya Front candidates registered separate complaints against harassment, intimidation and assaults by ruling party activists and law enforcement agencies during electioneering. Against this backdrop, election commissioner Mahbub Talukder, talking to reporters ahead of a view exchange meeting with field-level election officers and law enforcers at Sylhet divisional commissioner’s office on Sunday, said that election and violence could not go at the same time.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi alleged that at least 341 of their activists were arrested on Saturday night and Sunday while 140 were injured in attacks on their electioneering. BNP leaders said that over 4,500 BNP leaders and activists, including 16 candidates of the party and its alleys, were arrested across the country since the electioneering began on December 10.
They alleged that the police were now targeting influential local leaders, including their electoral agents. JOF chief Dr Kamal Hossain and BNP secretary general welcomed troop deployment and expected that a congenial election environment would be created and that the armed forces would not act for any individual or a certain quarter, rather would play a positive role in election duties.
In the day’s major incident, BNP candidate for Dhaka 9 constituency Afroza Abbas and her supporters came under attack again allegedly by Awami League activists while conducting electioneering in the city’s Maniknagar area, leaving a number of people, including some journalists, injured.
Talking to reporters at her Shahjahanpur residence in the afternoon, Afroza said she along with her supports was going to Mugdha’s Maniknagar in a procession around 1:00pm to conduct electioneering. ‘As our procession reached Maniknagar crossing, a group of ruling party men, led by local Swechchasebak League leader Tunda Babu, swopped on us and beat my supporters and journalists with rods and sticks,’ she said.
She said photojournalist Haider Ali was injured seriously as the attackers beat him mercilessly. She also claimed the attack left around 100 of her supporters injured.
Afroza said she was forced to return home halting her campaign following the attack.
She said she would lodge a complaint with Election Commission in this regard as she identified most of the attackers.
Mugda police officer-in-charge Proloy Kumar Saha told New Age that Afroja Abbas’ supporters were campaigning in Pukurparh area of Maniknagar when a chase and counter chase occurred between both the groups.
He said both the parties alleged that they were attacked by opponents.
On December 18, ruling party men reportedly attacked Afroza and her supporters during their electioneering in the city’s Khilgaon area.
On December 12, Afroza’s campaign convoy came under attack twice at Kamalapur and Madartek in the city by ruling party followers.
Ganosamhati Andolon chief coordinator and Left Democratic Alliance candidate for Dhaka 12 Zonayed Saki during his election campaign alleged that there was no acceptable environment so far in the country for holding election and that government officials, including police, were exercising favouritism for a particular quarter now.
JOF top leader ASM Abdur Rob and candidate for Lakshmipur 4, in a press conference at his Ramgati residence, alleged that the AL, led by Sheikh Hasina, wanted to go to power forcibly and now they were threatening his activists, vandalising his election offices and obstructing his campaigns.
He warned that the government would be responsible for the consequences if the situation did not improve by today.
In Chattogram, BNP candidate for Chattogram 2 Azim Ullah Bahar and 19 of his supporters were injured as AL activists allegedly attacked a procession of ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ at Fatikchhari.
Mohammad Ibrahim, personal assistant of the BNP contestant, claimed that followers of AL leader Taiyab swooped on Bahar and his followers around 1:00pm when they brought out a procession at Muhammad Takirhat Bazar.
Babul Akter, officer-in-charge of Fatikchhari Police Station, said a group of miscreants attacked the activists of Bahar while electioneering, leaving 10-12 people injured.
Kallyan Party chairman and BNP candidate for Chattogram 5 (Hathazari) major general (retired) Syed Muhamamd Ibrahim on Sunday evening alleged that miscreants attacked to kill them.
The press conference was held at the city’s Chattogram Press Club.
He also demanded withdrawal of Hathazari officer-in-charge Belal Uddin Md Jahangir.
Ibrahim said that a group of 12 youths, led by BCL leaders Shah Alam and Md Selim, brother of Fatehpur Union Parishad chairman Md Shamim, attacked his electioneering motorcade at gate 1 in Chattogram University area.
BNP candidate for Chattogram 12 Enamul Haque Enam demanded withdrawal of the officer-in-charge of Patiya as he said his supporters were being harassed by filing false cases.
New Age Correspondent in Jashore, quoting Kotwali police officer-in-charge Apurba Hasan, reported that unidentified miscreants ransacked district BNP office at Laldighi of the town early Sunday and damaged portraits of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman, chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting chairperson Tarique Rahman.
Besides, BNP candidate for Jashore 3 Aninda Islam Amit on Saturday night lodged a written complaint with election commissioner Kabita Khanam at Jashore Circuit House alleging that his activists were being arrested in fictitious cases and tortured.
Left Democratic Alliance candidate and United Communist League politburo member Azizur Rahman, who was attacked twice by AL men during election campaign, in a letter to returning officer demanded withdrawal of Patkelghata police officer-in-charge alleging that the OC, responding to his appeal of security, had said that none but AL would conduct the campaign in his thana area.
BNP candidate for Barishal 5 Mojibor Rahman Sarwar in a press conference at Barishal Press Club alleged that ruling party men and police were obstructing his electioneering.
Police in uniform and plainclothes had been conducting mass arrests and raiding the houses of his activists for creating panic, he alleged.
Sarwar attended the press conference along with a few lawyers as a BNP activist Shahin was arrested while entering the press conference venue.
After the press conference Sarwar met returning officer urging him to ensure free fair election. Besides, Gournadi police sub-inspector Tajel Islam on Saturday night lodged a case against 20 BNP leaders and activists, of which 15 including upazila BNP convener Abul Hossain Mia were named, for a secret meeting for planning sabotage to foil election, said Gournadi Police Inspector (investigation) Mahbubur Rahman.
He said that they arrested Shahajira Government Primary School headmaster Ashraf Mahmud Hiru, Razzak Pyada and Kamrul Sardar in the case.
Meanwhile, the joint forces conducted a drive in the residence of the Jamaat leader and Oikya Front candidate for Pabna 5 but none was arrested, officer-in-charge of Pabna sadar police station Obaidul Haque said.
Jatiya Oikya Front candidate for Pabna 1 Abu Sayeed at a press conference at his residence of Breshalika in Bera municipality in Pabna on Sunday alleged that he was attacked 12 times by AL and Juba League men and that his campaigners could not hang posters and run campaigns properly as AL men created a dreadful situation for their activists in their areas.
Our Rajshahi University Correspondent reported that police arrested Mokbul Hossain, Nouhata municipality mayor and chief electioneering agent of BNP candidate for Rajshahi 3 constituency Shafiqul Haque Milon, and Paba upazila BNP general secretary Ali Hossain on Sunday.
Shafiqul alleged that police arrested six of his leaders and activists including Mokbul and Ali Hossain from their residences early Sunday without any case or warrant.
Mohonpur Police officer-in-charge Abul Hossain claimed that Mokbul was arrested for his attempt of carrying out sabotage.
BNP candidate for Rajshahi 2 Miznur Rahman Minu alleged that five of their activists were arrested from their residences on Saturday night without any case or warrant.
Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal general secretary Khalequzzaman in a statement, referring to the attack on the party’s candidate for Jaipurhat 1 Wazed Parvez’s election campaign that left three injured and materials destroyed, alleged that though EC was talking about level playing field, the reality was that none but AL was getting opportunity to conduct electioneering.
In Sylhet, police arrested president of BNP city unit from his residence in Tatipara area early Sunday.
A team of police conducted a raid in the house of Nasim Hossain and arrested him around 12:30am, said Azmal Bakta Sadek, acting general secretary of city BNP.
Police arrested Nasim as he was wanted in a case, said additional deputy commissioner (media) Zedan AL Musa of Sylhet Metropolitan police.
New Age Correspondent in Cumilla reported that clash erupted between AL and BNP activists at Raikot after AL activists tore posters of the opposition candidate at village Betagaon in the afternoon.
The clash left Juba League leader Shariful Islam and another one injured.
Soon after, a group of men wearing helmets attacked Betagaon setting eight houses and shops on fire. In another incident, a BNP campaigner came under attack at Shrifalia Bazaar of Nagolkot in the afternoon.
The attackers comprising activists of AL and its front organisations damaged cars and motorcycles after attacking BNP activists.
Nangolkot police inspector Mohammad Ashraf said they received news about an attack on an AL rally by BNP activists, which left five to six activists injured.