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Violence ruining UP polls atmosphere

4 killed in Narsingdi clash; CEC blames local political leaders, law enforcers

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 5 November, 2021 12:00 AM
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Violence ruining UP polls atmosphere

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Widespread violence among the supporters of rival candidates in the upcoming second and third phases of the union parishad election is ruining the polls atmosphere.

With the polls getting closer, the followers of rival chairman and member candidates are clashing with each other in different parts of the country, killing around a dozen people and injuring several hundred others.

There were also incidents of vandalism and torching of rival campaign offices.

The violence has intensified as ruling Awami League is struggling to contain its rebels in the local body polls.

In continuation of the pre-polls violence, four people were shot to death and 15 others injured when supporters of two rival candidates in Alokbali union parishad election clashed in a village in Narsingdi on Thursday.

In the wake of growing violence, the Election Commission on Thursday held a meeting with all concerned, including the local administration and law enforcement agencies.

Shifting the failure to contain the violence on local political leaders and law enforcement agencies, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda said the violence took place due to the tendency of establishing supremacy by the locals and lack of intelligence efforts of the law enforcers.

He urged the authorities concerned to enhance vigilance to stop the pre-polls violence. “Elections are being held since 1787 and incidents of killing have also taken since then. However, it’s not acceptable. There’ll be no problem if administrative action is taken and intelligence surveillance is strengthened,” he said.

According to the Election Commission, polls will be held in 846 UPs in the second phase on November 11 and 1,007 others in the third phase on November 28.

A total of 37,047 candidates, including 5,285 for chairman posts and 11,569 for women reserved seats, are vying in the third-phase polls and some 3,310 candidates are contesting chairman posts and 9,061 are running for reserved member seats for women and 28,747 for the member posts in the second phase.

As per the AL office sources, there are nearly 1,000 party rebels in the second-phase election while more than 1,000 others are contesting the third-phase polls.

Experts hinted that there might be heightened violence in the fourth phase of the election as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has backtracked on its decision to boycott the polls.

The party has decided not to take any punitive action against its leaders and activists if they participate in the UP polls independently.

As most of the political parties, including BNP, have boycotted the UP polls so far, the ruling party candidates are contesting the polls against party rebels.

In many places, relatives and supporters of influential local party leaders and lawmakers are vying against party-nominated candidates though the party has hinted at taking stern actions against them.

Speaking at a programme recently, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said stern action would be taken against those who are contesting the UP polls violating party decision and unleashing violence and bloody clashes. “Action will be taken against discipline violators, patrons, instigators even if they’re public representatives or party bigwigs,” he said.

In Narsingdi, four people were shot dead and 15 others injured, nine of them with bullets, when supporters of two rival candidates clashed on Thursday.

The deceased were identified as Amir Hossain, 42, son of Kutu Mia, Ashraful, 18, son of Abdul Karim, Khushu Begum, 32, daughter of Manu Mia, and Khairul Islam, 30, son of Shahidullah.

All the victims are the residents of Alokbali village in Sadar upazila and supporters of Abul Khayer.

Those suffered bullet wounds were shifted to Dhaka for better treatment.

Mohammad Saugatul Alam, officer-in-charge of Sadar Police Station, said AL candidate Abul Khayer and Ripon Mia, a rival candidate, had long been at loggerheads.

Around 6am on Thursday, Ripon and his supporters, equipped with arms and teta (a type of fishing spear), suddenly attacked the supporters of Khayer, triggering a deadly clash, he said.

A chase and counter-chase took place between the two rival groups amid gunshots, leaving three people dead on the spot and 16 others injured.

Of the injured, Khairul, who also suffered bullet wounds, died on the way to Dhaka at noon.

Earlier, similar clashes occurred in different districts across the country, including Narsingdi, Rangamati and Magura.

On October 28, two people died and scores were injured in a clash between the supporters of rival aspirants in a union in Narsingdi.

On October 16, four members of a family were killed and several other people injured as supporters of two UP member hopefuls in Jagdal union parishad election clashed in Magura Sadar upazila.

On October 18, an Awami League chairman candidate was shot dead by miscreants at Agapara in Kaptai upazila of Rangamati.

On Friday last, at least 15 people were injured by bullets in a clash between supporters of the AL-nominated chairman candidate and the rebel contestant in Hatkhali union of Sujanagar upazila in Pabna over the upcoming union parishad election.

At least 20 people, including AL rebel candidate Ali Akbar, were injured in an attack allegedly by a group of people, led by AL-nominated candidate Jakir Hossain, during electioneering in Munshiganj recently.

In Netrokona, at least 25 people were injured in clashes between supporters of rival candidates ahead of the union parishad polls recently.

Contacted, AL Presidium member Kazi Zafarullah said the rebels cannot be in the party if they contest the polls going beyond the party decision. “Those are trying to create division and conflict in the party won’t be spared.”

Like different countries of the world, the government introduced party-based local government election in different key positions of local government in 2016. Accordingly, changes were brought to different local and urban government laws.

Election to the post of chairman of union parishad, upazila parishad, zila parishad, municipality and city corporation is now being held on party symbols since 2016.