4th-phase Municipal Polls

Voting tomorrow amid fear of violence

Anaet Shawon

13th February, 2021 10:02:17 printer

Voting tomorrow amid fear of violence

The Election Commission (EC) has taken all necessary preparations to hold the fourth-phase elections to 53 municipalities tomorrow in a free and fair manner.

Sources concerned, however, fear massive violence on the voting day as pre-poll clashes between the supporters of candidates have already left one dead and many injured.

Vandalism and torching of candidates’ campaign offices, attacks on poll processions are increasing ahead of the fourth-phase local body polls, they say.

Polls atmosphere has become volatile as Awami League mayoral rebels and many councilor candidates from the ruling party and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are active in the field.

Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder has recently expressed concern over the poll violence and breaching of the electoral code of conduct by candidates.

“I do not understand why the EC is unable to create a peaceful environment for election by exercising its immense power,” he said.

Incidents of clashes between supporters of mayoral and councilor candidates and torching of poll campaign offices have recently took place in different municipalities, including Alamdanga in Chuadanga,  Gopalpur in Tangail, Kalkini in Madaripur, Phulpur in Mymensingh, Lalmonirhat Sadar, Ranishangkail in Thakurgaon and Rajbari Sadar.

On February 6, a man was killed and five others were injured as supporters of the ruling party candidate and incumbent Gopalpur mayor Rakibul Haque were locked into clashes with followers of AL rebel candidate Gias Uddin in Gopalpur Bazar and Someshpur.

The EC on Thursday postponed election to Kalkini municipality without mentioning any reason. However, it was alleged that independent mayoral candidate in Kalkini Moshiur Rahman Sobuj was missing for around 11 hours on Saturday last. Sobuj later claimed that the police superintendent picked him up and took him to Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader.             

As the news spread, Sobuj's supporters took position in front of the police station and clashed with Awami League supporters, leaving scores of people injured.

On Thursday night, four poll campaign offices of AL-backed candidate and two poll campaign offices of independent candidate were vandalized in Alamdanga of Chuadanga. Two people were injured in a clash between AL and its rebel candidates in Rajbari sadar municipality. Poll campaign offices of AL mayoral candidates in Lalmonirhat sadar and Thakurgaon’s Ranishangkail were torched on the same night.

On February 10, five people were injured in a clash between the supporters of AL and BNP mayoral candidates in Mymensingh’s Phulpur municipality.

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda said the commission was trying to prevent poll violence.

The EC has already taken steps to prevent poll violence, he said and hope that the next phase of the municipality polls will be held in a free, fair and peaceful manner.

On January 4, the EC announced the schedule for the fourth-phase election to 56 municipalities. Later, the High Court stayed for three months the election to three municipalities, including Mirkadim in Munshiganj and Kalai in Joypurhat. The EC postponed election to Kalkini municipality.