The ‘human hauler’ vehicle, allegedly crushed and vandalised by BNP men and for which a case had been filed too, stands in perfect condition in front of the Tongi police station in Gazipur.
The High Court stayed the Gazipur City Corporation polls for three months on Sunday following a writ petition seeking postponement by an Awami League man.
The police filed a case naming 103 persons in connection with vandalising a human hauler and sabotage on Monday. Most of the accused are BNP mayoral candidate Hasan Uddin Sarkar's relatives or members of his election affairs committee.
The police, with extraordinary speed, detained 12 men, after conducting a drive around Hasan Sarkar's residence, in one and a half hours following the High Court stay order on Sunday.
The BNP leaders say the police filed a false case in order to harass BNP men, and the elections affairs committee members were detained intentionally to clear the way for the ruling party in case the polls take place.
There are 100-150 unidentified accused in the case statement. Among them 48 persons are from Hasan Uddin's election affairs management committee.
The case has been filed under the Special Powers Act,1974.The alleged crime spot in front of the Star Haven restaurant on the Mymensingh highway, is several yards away from Hasan Sarkar's residence.
It is said that the incident took place around 4:30pm Sunday and the case was filed at 6:10am Monday. A human hauler, with the number of Dhaka-Metro-Ga-11-6080 and broken pieces of glass and bricks, has been seized as evidence.
The statement also said that, 12 persons were arrested from the spot and 100-150 party men ran away seeing the police. They set ablaze a human hauler and vandalised things, the statement read.
But the human hauler was found parked intact in front of the Tongi police station on Tuesday with no signs of vandalism.
The Prothom Alo correspondent found the owner of the vehicle Md. Alamin, from Kamaria village of Gazipur, seated inside. He said, the police took requisition of the vehicle around 3:00pm on 6 May. He said, the police then detained three or four persons, took them aboard from the Cherag Ali area of Tongi around 4:30pm that day. As the hauler went out of order on the way, the law enforcers left it and took another vehicle.
Later that day, Alamin said, they fixed the hauler and on their way, the police again stopped the vehicle just before their police station around 6:15pm.
The account of the hauler driver Rakib, matches Alamin's statement. Both of them said that no vandalism had been carried out.
The accused include Gazipur district BNP general secretary and of the election affairs committee member secretary Kazi Saiyedul Alam, public relations officer for the BNP's election affairs committee Mazharul Alam, Gazipur sadar upazila council chairman and election committee member Izadur Rahman.
Cousins of Hasan Sarkar, Salah Uddin Sarkar, Pappu Sarkar, Nakib Uddin Sarkar and Apu Sarkar, are also on the list of accused.
The election committee members including Idris Sarkar of Konabari unit at ward 7-12, Nazim Uddin chairman of Kauntia unit at ward 19-23, Suruj of ward 13-18, Haji Samad of Gachha unit at ward 23-38, Nasir Uddin of ward 51, several councillors from other wards and more men from BNP, Jamaat and Hefazat-e-Islam have also been accused.
Hasan Uddin Sarkar told Prothom Alo, when party leaders and activists came to know the election was deferred, gathered at the college gate area and also around his house. But there were no incidents of vandalism or arson. He complained that he was intentionally "harassed by fabricated cases, indiscriminate arrests" that would make the tough election race harder for him without his men at hand.
Rejecting the allegation, Md Kamal Hossain, the officer in charge of Tongi police station said, the case was filed as per situation demanded.
Moreover, "The owner of the hauler is telling lies just to get the vehicle released,” he said.
Surprisingly there are discrepancies in the case statement too. The names of the two accused Salah Uddin Sarkar and his nephew Mamun Sarkar are written as the same.
Another two accused were Shawkat Hossain, the convener of election operating committee and former UP chairman, and his wife. Shawkat’s wife is not involved in any political activities, said the local BNP leaders.
The case statement also shows that the alleged damages caused by so-called vandalising and torching, amounted to Tk 250,000. The hauler was crushed and seats were burnt when it was seized, said the statement.
Police conducted raids to arrest the leaders and activists, accusing them of creating unrest and anarchy and creating fear among people. They arrested 12 activists who were evading arrest.
BNP vice chairman Abdullah Al Noman was one of the 12 arrested, though he was released six hours after being detained. His name was not mentioned in the statement either.
Speaking of the incidents, the Gazipur district BNP president Fazlul Haque said, “The government is scared of BNP’s popularity and public support."
Both the voters and candidates were frustrated after the election was suspended. Party leaders and men now fear arrest, he added.
Both the BNP and AL candidates filed cases challenging the polls stay order respectively on Monday and Tuesday. The four-member bench of the Appellate Division deferred the Wednesday (today) hearing in response to the election's commission's request as it would file another appeal petition.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin and Farjana Liakat.