Hell-bent on securing win for party favourites, the ruling Awami League men captured polling centres, stuffed and snatched ballot boxes and clashed with opponents and law enforcers in at least 30 of the 91 upazilas that went to polls Sunday.
The violence, widespread and deadlier than in the previous three phases, left at least four people dead in Munshiganj, Brahmanbaria, Jhalakathi and Comilla. Across the country, more than 200 people, including about a dozen policemen, were injured, according to a Daily Star report.
The local administration and law enforcers largely failed to contain the violence and unlawful activities, proving the Election Commission’s latest directives ineffective. On Saturday, the EC directed the army, police, Border Guard Bangladesh and Rab to take preventive measures during the election.
The instruction came amid increasing fear of violence in the run-up to yesterday’s polls, which appeared crucial for both the Awami League and BNP as the results of the previous three phases put them neck to neck.
In the previous three phases, the BNP-backed candidates took 120 chairman posts and AL-supported contenders 118 posts. The AL favourites lagged behind in the first two phases of the elections but fought back in phase-three on March 15 through violent means in some upazilas. Elections to 74 upazilas will be held on March 31 in fifth and last phase.
The upazila polls have seen increasing violence. Though no casualty was reported in the first phase on February 18, one person was killed in second phase election on February 27. Three people died on March 15 during voting in the third phase.
Yesterday, incidents of violent clashes, capturing polling centres and snatching and stuffing ballot boxes took place in many polling centres in at least 30 upazilas. The upazilas include Aguiljhara in Barisal, Jessore Sadar, Kishoreganj Sadar, Jibonnagar in Chuadanga, Tamizuddin and Manpura in Bhola, Kutubdia in Cox’s Bazar, Satkania and Fatikchhari in Chittagong and Ishwardi in Pabna.
Candidates backed by BNP boycotted polls in 22 upazilas. Local BNP units called a daylong hartal in at least 10 upazilas for today, according to our district correspondents.
The Election Commission postponed polls at 32 centres in 11 upazilas, following violence and irregularities.
Mobile courts in different areas sentenced several people, mostly belonging to the AL, to different terms in prison for violating electoral laws.
DETECTIVES on Tuesday pressed charges against 21 for their alleged involvement in the killing of tailor Bishwajit Das in old part of Dhaka during a political demonstration on December 9.
All the 21 accused are activists of Jagannath University unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of the ruling Awami League, Bangla daily Prothom Alo quoted Sanwar Hossain, additional deputy commissioner of Detective Branch of police, as saying.
Only seven of the 21 are now behind the bars. Four of them have already made confessional statements before the court regarding their link with the murder.
Police dropped the names of four other arrestees saying they did not find any proof of their link with the incident.
Bishwajit Das, 24, proprietor of Amantron Tailors in Shakharibazar area in Sutrapur, was stabbed and beaten to death during a road blockade programme of the BNP-led 18-party alliance.
Tajul Islam, an inspector of Detective Branch (DB) of police who is investigating the case, submitted the charge sheet before the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka.
Forty-one persons have been made prosecution witness.
Seven accused were earlier also arrested for their alleged involvement with the killing.
They are Mahfuzur Rahman, HM Kibria, Quiyum Miah Tipu, GM Rasheduzzaman Shaon, Saiful Islam, Mohammad Rafiqul Islam alias Shakil and Emdadul Haque Emdad.
The four whose names have been dropped are: Mamun Rashid, Faruk Hossain, Mosle Uddin Moslem and Kazi Shahiduzzaman Tuhin.
In the morning of December 9, a number of cocktails exploded in front of Bahadur Shah Park as the opposition 18-party alliance enforced a road blockade programme.
Hearing the sounds, BCL men of Jagannath University unit rushed to the spot wielding sticks and chased some people suspecting them to be pickets.
At one stage, they caught Bishwajit, who was passing through the area, and gave him a good beating.
Bishwajit was rushed to Mitford Hospital in critical condition where he died later.
Family members claimed that Bishwajit was not involved with any political party.
No-one has been reported in the attacks, according to our correspondents in the districts.
In Chittagong, unknown criminals set fire to “Sarbojonin Magodeshwari Mandir” at Nathpara village in Satkania upazila headquarters.
Quoting locals, Nazrul Haque, a sub-inspector of Satkania Police Station, said that the attack took place at around 2:30am.
Locals rushed there to douse the fire. But the flames gutted the tin-roofed structure fully before the locals could do anything, Sukumar Nath, who lives near the temple, told The Daily Star.
Expressing concern at the attack, inhabitants of the village who are Hindus said they were living in panic that there might be further attacks.
A general diary has been lodged with Satkania Police Station Tuesday morning.
In Lalmonirhat, unidentified criminals vandalised a temple and idols kept in there at Rotherpar village in Aditmari upazila around 9:30 Monday night.
Subhas Chandro Roy, president of Sri Sri Shwasan Kali temple committee, said the attack sent panic to the Hindu community.
Police visited the spot but no-one has been arrested in this connection till filing of this report at 3:00pm.
The government has decided to take action against leaders of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami for the recent violence, Home Minister MK Alamgir said on Tuesday.
Leaders of the central committees and local units of the BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami would have take all responsibilities for lives and properties lost in violence between Thursday and Monday, Alamgir said while speaking at parliament.
Action would be taken against the BNP-Jamaat leaders under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009, he added.
THE government appealed with the Supreme Court Sunday seeking death penalty to Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah who got life term for wartime offences.
The attorney general’s office submitted the 484-page appeal to the section concerned of the apex court in the morning.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star that his office will now file an application to the Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division for fixing a date for hearing the appeal at a regular bench.
In its petition, the government asked the Supreme Court to award Mollah capital punishment considering the gravity of his crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War.
The verdict delivered on February 5 convicted the 65-year-old Mollah for five wartime criminal offences out of the six he was charged with, and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
In two of the five acts of crimes against humanity, at least 350 people were killed and a girl was raped.
Mollah was also sentenced to 15-year imprisonment for his complicity in three other criminal offences in which six people were killed.
And he was acquitted of the charge of killing hundreds of people at Keraniganj in Dhaka, as the charge was not proved in the tribunal.
Early morning violence sweeps through the district, Section 144 imposed
AT least nine persons, including three women, were killed and scores hurt when Jamaat-Shibir men and locals clashed with law enforcers, attacked a police station and six outposts, vandalised and torched different offices in northern district of Bogra Sunday morning.
Four, including the three women, died in Shajahanpur upazila, three in Bogra Sadar and two in Shibganj upazila, reports our Bogra correspondent.
Alleged activists of Jamaat-e-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir, tricked hundreds of villagers in different upazilas of the northern district to come out on the roads in the early morning and carried out the vandalism.
The violence, which began around 4:00am, stopped four hours later following reports of army deployment.
People in different upazilas said they heard announcements made from loudspeakers in the early hours of Sunday that Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee could be seen in the moon.
Moved by the announcement, hundreds of people, mostly from Shahjahanpur, Kahalu, Shibganj and Dupchanchia upazilas came out of their houses to and started marching towards Bogra Sadar upazila headquarters protesting death penalty awarded to Sayedee for wartime offences.
POLICE STATION ATTACKED
A few thousand people attacked Shahjahanpur Police Station in Shahjahanpur upazila, which is located near the Bogra Cantonment, around 6:00am.
“They beat up policemen here indiscriminately in the sudden attacks,” Mahmudul Alam, officer-in-charge of the police station, told The Daily Star.
Police opened fire to bring the situation under control, said Bogra Superintendent of Police, Mozammel Haq.
Four people died there.
Atiar Rahman, inspector (investigation)of the police station, identified the four as Arjinba Begum, 45, of Shajapur Pashchimpara; Monjila Begum, 48; Achhia Begum, 45; and Abdur Rahman, 60, of Domorpukur Moldolpara.
As the situation was going out of control, the district administration requested for army deployment.
Responding to the call, two platoons of army men were deployed there, the Inter-Services Public Relations said.
As they marched towards town centre Satmatha, the protesters vandalised police outposts at Naruli, Shaheed Chandu Stadium, Fulbari, Uposhor and Koigari.
When they neared Satmatha around 4:30am, law enforcers tried to disperse the mob near Yakubia Girls High School, triggering a clash.
The protesters hurled brick chips and cocktails at members of police, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), prompting the law enforcers to fire rubber bullets and teargas shells.
Angry mob vandalised and set fire to the offices of SA Paribahan and Karotoa Courier Service.
They also tried to vandalise private television channel ATN Bangla’s office there but only managed to burn the showroom of ATN products on the ground floor of the building.
The protesters set fire to the house of Momtaz Uddin, president of district AL unit, in the town.
The vandalism continued for 50 minutes.
Three persons died in clashes in Bogra Sadar. Their identities however could not be learnt immediately.
To contain violence, Section 144 was imposed in Bogra municipality since 7:00am banning any gathering and would remain in force until further order, Arifuzzaman, Nezarat Deputy Collector (NDC) of the district, told The Daily Star.
Several journalists were injured while covering the clashes.
The protesters vandalised Mokamtola outpost in Shibganj upazila.
Two persons died there during clashes with the law enforcers. They are: Ziaul Islam, 30, of Par Atrai area and Dulu Mia of Muradpur.
Local administration said Section 144 was also imposed in Nandigram upazila.
BNP and Jamaat men unleashed terror in the capital, torching and vandalising vehicles and business establishments and blasting cocktails on Saturday afternoon.
Law enforcers fired gunshots and teargas shells to disperse the agitators. Chases and counter-chases also took place.
Panic gripped the city dwellers following the brisk attacks by the opposition activists.
Clashes were going on at different places when the report was filed around 5:25pm.
Two private cars were torched at Bailey Road and Malibagh while two vehicles were set ablaze on Dhaka-Chittagong highway.
The BNP and Jamaat men launched the attacks while they were marching towards the BNP’s Nayapaltan office to attend a protest rally. On Friday, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia declared the rally.
Being chased by law enforcers, they entered different lanes where they also carried out vandalism.
Panicked, many people ran away for safety abandoning their vehicles — private cars, motorcycles and rickshaws — on the roads.