Shahriar Khondokar, a BNP activist of Pathanpara in Rajshahi, was picked up from the northern city’s Fire Service Intersection on Monday evening. His family came to know the following day that Shahriar was kept at Pabna sadar police station.
Shahriar was also shown arrested over there along with two other BNP men -- Jahangir Alam, ex-Jubo Dal president at Rajshahi ward no. 15, and BNP activist Jewel Islam.
Shahriar’r brother Khondokar Abul Bashar said Shahriar was picked up by some men aboard a microbus when he was having gossip with a few in the city on Monday evening.
Shahriar is an engineer and a contractor by profession, said his family members. They claimed that there was no case filed against him before. He was just involved with the campaign for the BNP's mayor candidate’s election campaign of late.
Shahriar is one of many detainees as there has been a spree of 'arrests' throughout Rajshahi since the beginning of the campaign on 10 July for Rajshahi civic polls to be held on 30 July.
The BNP men had been earlier shown arrested in sabotage and explosion cases filed with police stations in the city. But they are now being shown arrested in cases filed with police stations in neighbouring districts despite being detained from Rajshahi city.
The police personnel are the plantiffs in almost all these cases. And accusations invariably include holding secret meetings to hatch conspiracy against the government, committing sabotage and plot to create unrest.
Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) sees this as 'new evil tactics' by the police and as prelude to election engineering to ensure victory for the ruling party candidates.
Prothom Alo investigation found that a total of 11 BNP leaders and activists were detained from Rajshahi on Monday night alone.
The detainees were then transferred to several police stations -- in Pabna, Natore, Chapainawabganj districts.
The BNP filed a complaint with the returning officer on Tuesday, saying 43 leaders and activists of the party were arrested by then.
The BNP leaders alleged that the party's potential polling agents and active workers were arrested selectively.
As it stands as practice, the opposition men are being detained from different spots of the city and later being transferred to different district police stations.
And such action by the law enforcers is making the party members panicked and their families are being harassed as well, the BNP leaders further alleged.
As usual, Rajshahi's metropolitan police commissioner, AKM Hafiz Aktar denied the BNP’s allegations. “We don’t know if they are being arrested from other districts. They might have been arrested in connection with cases in those places,” he said.
Rajshahi metropolitan special branch police superintendent Abu Ahmad Al Mamun is assigned to supervise the matter of 'who are being arrested from where', and reasons of arrest during this election in Rajshahi.
When asked, the police officer said a total of 28 people were arrested over cases relating to sabotage and possession of explosive substances, pending with different police stations in the metropolitan since 11 July.
They were arrested in connection with specific charges, he added.
BNP activisti Muktar Hossain Bhutto was detained from Bulonpur Ghoshpara of Rajshahi Saturday night. Another BNP man, Raihan Ali aka Rana, was detained from Sreerampur the same night.
Raihan’s brother-in-law Jamal Hossain said, Raihan is a chatpati seller and active in the BNP candidate’s campaign. He was picked up from the nearby areas of his home on Monday night. Later it was known that he was in Chapainawabganj jail.
Muktar and Raihan were arrested from Rahampur intersection, claimed sub-inspector Shah Alam, who is in charge of Chapainawabganj Gomostapur police station’s Rahampur outpost. They were shown arrested in connection with a local case.
Tipu Sultan from Dashmar, Mamunur Rashid from Natun Budhpara, and Sabdul Ali, Saiful Islam and Sulaiman from Meherchandi, and Mofizul Islam from Namo Bhadra were picked up by plainclothes police on Monday night.
They were arrested from Tokiya of Natore, sadar police station officer-in-charge Kazi Jalal Uddin claimed on Tuesday morning. They were shown arrested in connection with three sabotage cases.
Prothom Alo’s Natore correspondent said a number of 11 activists of BNP mayoral candidate were allegedly arrested from Rajshahi and then sent to Natore prison in connection to three old cases. Two of them were denied bail by the Natore Sadar cognising court Wednesday morning. Hearing on others’ bail pleas will be carried out Thursday.
"The arrested people are active election campaigners and many of them are named in the election agents’ list," BNP mayor candidate Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul said.
He alleged that his men were selectively being arrested ahead of the elections to create an atmosphere of fear. More than 100 of them were already sent to jail in 14 cases so far, he added.
When asked about the BNP’s allegation, assistant returning officer Atiar Rahman said the matter would be brought to the attention of the Rajshahi metropolitan police commission.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.