Incidents of attack, vandalism and clash have been taking place at different places over campaigns of the 4th phase of municipal elections to be held Sunday, Prothom Alo investigation has found.
Attacks and counter-attacks have taken place at the electioneering office of Awami League-backed and independent mayor candidates at Alamdanga municipality of Chuadanga on Thursday night just hours after the chief election commissioner had said on Thursday afternoon there will be no poll violence as the commission is working to keep the election environment peaceful.
Questions have been raised over the role of the election commission in reining in the unabated poll violence across the country even at the beginning of 4th phase of municipality election campaign.
Allegations have also been made about the EC doing nothing other than issuing warnings.
Elections to 54 municipalities will be held in 14 February 2021, under these circumstances.
According to Prothom Alo correspondents in different municipality areas, there have been attacks and obstruction of election campaigns in at least 30 municipalities over the last couple of days.
There were several incidents attacks and clashes in Kalapara area of Patuakhali, Thakurgaon sadar and Gopalpur municipality of Tangail.
Some 18 untoward incidents took place between supporters of the ruling party Awami League and the opposition BNP.
Video clips of the ruling Awami League leaders' statements regarding elections in Chuadanga's Alamdanga and Lakshmipur's Ramgati, have gone viral on the social media.
In Chuadanga, AL leader is teaching the party activists tactics of voting through underhand means and intimidating the opponents.
In Lakshmipur, district AL leader said it can be detected if anyone casts their vote outside of the 'boat', the election symbol of Awami League.
Besides, allegations have been raised against four members of parliament of ruling Awami League for breaching the electoral codes of conduct and working in favour of party candidates.
Earlier, incidents of violence took place in the three phases of municipality polls. In the 3rd phase of municipality election on 30 January, there were incidents of clashes, firing, assault and obstructing the agents of the opponent candidates, in at least eight municipalities. BNP and independent candidates boycotted votes in 10 municipalities. In the 3rd phase, elections took place in 62 municipalities.
About the poll violence, speaking to Prothom Alo on Friday night, Md Rafiqul Islam said necessary action was being taken through the election officials and law enforcing agencies.
But still there are apprehensions, he added.
Asked about the Lakshmipur AL leader's statement over EVM, Rafiqul Islam said, "I will request you, including the Awami League leader, just come and see whether it is possible or not."
About polls violence and arrest of opposition leaders and activists, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said, "From the statements Lakshmipur Awami League leader made about the EVM, it seems the entire state machinery is holding a one-sided election. It is a farce in the name of election."
Some incidents of poll violence
Business establishments of Independent mayor candidate Didaruddin Ahmed have been attacked and vandalised in Kolapara municipality area of Patuakhali on Thursday night.
He is contesting in the elections as an independent mayor candidate after failing to secure nomination from Awami League.
He alleged there is no environment for election. Entire Kalapara town is now under the occupation of terrorists from the outside.
AL mayor candidate election conducting committee convener and upazila unit general secretary Abdul Motaleb, however, said, "I don't know who carried out the attacks and why."
Meanwhile, Detective Branch of police on Thursday night arrested the son of Mostafa Kamal, a BNP mayor candidate of Chatkhil municipality in Noakhali.
BNP candidate alleged his son has picked up by DB intentionally to defeat him in the municipality on 14 February.
Officer in charge of district DB Mohammad Hossain said Mahbubur is a fugitive accused in a case. Earlier, an arrest warrant was issued against him.
About violence in the municipality elections, speaking to Prothom Alo, Awami League joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif on Friday said there are always instances of violence in the history of local government elections.
"The party tries to make the elections peaceful and festive. They are trying to do that," Hanif added.
Prothom Alo correspondents in respective areas have contributed to filing the report.