Police collecting data on number of minority, Jamaat voters

The Special Branch (SB) of police began gathering data of voters in every constituency ahead of the twelfth parliamentary election.

The intelligence unit of police is also collecting data on whether any polling centres are risky, how is the infrastructure of the polling centres, how many voters belong to minority communities or support Jamaat-e-Islami.

Sources said SB headquarters on 24 July asked field level officials and district police to collect these data. They were directed to send the information on the specified table within 2 August.

Superintendents of several districts’ police confirmed getting such direction. An additional deputy inspector general of police on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo it is a routine duty of SB to collect such information before any local or national election.

SB informs the election commission and other government bodies about possible risk factors or whether any polling centre is risky. 

The police official also said the issue of safety of minority communities after the election has to be taken seriously and that’s why it is important to know their numbers.

Moreover, observing Jamaat-e-Islami’s activities before and after polls is also necessary. And the sole purpose of collecting this information is holding a fair election.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, however, told Prothom Alo that he was not informed of such endeavors.

The letter sent to district police said that the next general election might be held at the end of 2023 or beginning of next year.

Sources said the field officials were asked to send the data of voters based on polling centres by email in a specified table. The information sought include the number of risky, very risky and general polling centres, direction and distance of polling centre from police station, description of the polling center’s infrastructure and whether the centre saw any violence in previous elections.

Moreover, the number of male and female voters, minority voters, Jamaat- e-Islami’s voters and Hijra voters have been sought.

Shusashoner Jonno Nagorik’s (SHUJAN) secretary Badiul Alam Majumder told Prothom Alo that the former election commissioner Mahbub Talukder in his book ‘Nirbachannama’ wrote that the election has now gone to the hand of law enforcers instead of the election commission.

They (law enforcers) took many initiatives in the past to influence the elections. The SB is probably collecting this data to influence the next election, he added.

He said different surveys had already revealed the number of minority voters or Hijra voters. It is not acceptable at all to collect information about the number of voters of any political party.