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.