Ruling Awami League and its allies are making the most of electioneering when main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, its allies and Left Democratic Alliance are finding hardly any footing amid arrest and intimidation of their leaders and activists, with just a week left for the general election.
Ruling AL leaders and candidates claim overwhelming supports from people because of their development activists while BNP leaders allege their activists are facing threats and attacks aimed to deter them from electioneering.
As per reports received from districts and divisional headquarters until Saturday, posters of AL and their allies can be seen almost everywhere while posters of opposition candidates are a rare sight.
A repressive political environment strengthens its grip in Bangladesh as opposition and government critics become the target of escalating violence ahead of December 30 national election, says New-York based Human Rights Watch in a report.
The report on Bangladesh s situation titled Creating Panic: Bangladesh Election Crackdown on Political Opponents and Critics was published on Saturday.
The report, published against the backdrop of the attacks and intimidation of opposition political activists, highlights deteriorating human rights condition in the country largely due to authorities failure to act impartially.
The police officials, however, denied the allegation of arrests in fictitious cases and claimed that the arrested were wanted in specific criminal cases.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi in a press conference at the party s central office in the capital on Saturday claimed that a total of 6,675 leaders, activists and candidates of BNP and its allies were arrested across the country and four were killed until December 19 since announcement of election schedule on November 8.
He alleged that they had come to know that operation of law enforcers to arrest leaders and activists of BNP, 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikya Front would be increased from Saturday night.
In this regard, Rizvi claimed that the home ministry was supplying the lists of BNP leaders and activists to Border Guard Bangladesh and Rapid Action Battalion to get them arrested.
He said that arrest of polling agents of sheaf of paddy, BNP s electoral symbol, would start one or two days ahead of the elections.
The BNP leader further claimed that the party came to know from various sources that officers-in-charge of different police stations of Dhaka Metropolitan Police were taking interview and giving instruction to listed AL activists as to how to stuff ballots.
The allegations are not true at all, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police s deputy commissioner (media) Md Masudur Rahman.
BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas, who is contesting for Dhaka 8, on Saturday alleged that a group of unknown people for the last few days were following his and his wife s electioneering. His wife Afroza Abbas is contesting for Dhaka 9.
Abbas came up with the allegation at a news conference at his residence at Shahjahanpur in the evening.
Left Democratic Alliance coordinator Mohammad Shah Alam in a statement on Saturday alleged that a number of LDA candidates and activists were facing attacks by AL activists since electioneering began on December 10 and that they got no remedy even after filing complainants with the returning officers.
Expressing its deep concern over the recent attacks during electioneering in different parts of the country and also attack on a minority family in Thakurgaon, ruling Awami League in a letter to Election Commission on Saturday demanded strict steps.
About the reported arson attack in Thakurgaon, Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad general secretary Rana Dasgupta said the fire service told them that the fire might be caused by a short circuit.
He, however, demanded proper investigation as two or three unidentified people were seen to flee the place immediately after the incident.
Bangladesh Coast Guard authorities, in a press release on Saturday, said they, as per Election Commission directives, had deployed its 40 platoons in coastal districts on election duty areas ahead of the election.
The platoons will perform their duties from December 22 to January 1, 2019, as per the directives of Election Commission, it said.
Earlier on Tuesday, EC deployed a total of 1,016 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh soldiers across the country.
Gono Forum executive president and JOF candidate for Dhaka 6, at a views exchanging meeting with candidates of Dhaka 4 to Dhaka 18 at Plaza Auditorium of National Art Gallery at Segunbagicha in the capital, alleged that he felt insecure as his activists were being attacked in presence of police and expressed his doubt whether the December 30 election would be free and fair.
New Age Correspondent in Jashore reported that BNP candidate for Jashore 3 Aninda Islam Amit at a press conference at Jashore Press Club on Saturday said he was in fear about his life due to repeated attacks on his campaigns and that police arrested his 45 campaigners and filed two new cases in the past two days.
Our Correspondent in Sirajganj reported that BNP candidate for Sirajganj 6 MA Muhith at a press conference at BNP vice-chairman Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku s residence at Hossainpur in the district town on Saturday morning alleged that his election campaign was greatly hampered as his activists were being attacked and threatened by the AL activists while police were arresting them in false cases.
Shahajadpur police officer-in-charge Khaza Md Golam Kibria denied the allegation.
New Age correspondent in Magura reported that AL candidate for Magura 1 Saifduzzaman Shikhor conducted his election campaign in a festive mood.
Leaders and activists of BNP, led by the party district acting convener Akhter Hossain, on behalf of BNP s detained candidate for the same constituency Monwar Hossain Khan, conducted campaign at police line, Kukna and Sajiara areas of the town.
Monwar alleged their campaigns were affected by threats and obstacles by AL activists and fear of police arrest.
In Lalmonirhat, BNP candidate for Lalmonirhat-3 and district BNP president Asadul Habib Dulu in a press conference at his election office at Mission Mor of the district town alleged that his activists were not staying at homes in fear of arrests as the plainclothes police had been raiding their houses and, without finding them, had been hurling abusive words on female members of their families.
He alleged that 28 of his activists were arrested since beginning of electioneering.
New Age Correspondent in Lakshmipur, quoting BNP candidates for Lakshmipur 1 Shahadot Hossain Selim and for Lakshmipur 3 Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie, reported that their campaigners could not hang their posters and run campaigns properly as AL men created a dreadful situation for their activists in their areas.
Awami League candidate for Lakshmipur 1 Anwar Hossain Khan and Lakshmipur 3 AKM Shahjahan Kamal, however, claimed that the environment of their areas was peaceful and the campaigners were in festive mood.
Our correspondent in Satkhira, quoting BNP candidate for Satkhira 1 Habibur Rahman Habib and Shahidul Islam for Satkhira 3, reported that that they were facing obstacles from the local Awami League candidates as well as from police to continue their election campaigns.
Satkhira district AL joint general secretary Abu Ahmed, however, rejected the allegations and claimed that AL was not obstructing any of the opposition campaigns.
New Age correspondent at Islamic University reported that police recovered the body of a local BNP leader, Mahtab Hossain, 60, from a betel leaf garden at village Taherhuda in Jhenaidah on Friday after he was allegedly chased by police.
Police conducted a drive, led by sub-inspector Nasir Uddin, in the area and chased Mahtab. Sensing the presence of police, Mahtab fled the scene and entered into the garden, Harinakunda BNP secretary Taijal Hossain alleged.
Harinakunda Police Station sub-inspector Nasir Uddin admitted the drive and said that Mahtab might have died of his heart disease.
Ganosamhati Andolon in a press release on Saturday alleged that the party chief coordinator and LDA candidate for Dhaka 12 constituency Zonayed Saki s election campaigners were attacked by Chhatra League activists at the entrance of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University campus on Saturday afternoon.
It also alleged that another election campaign of the candidate was attacked at Nabisco in the capital and that Saki s personal email was hacked and his Facebook account was crashed while his party Facebook account was hacked.
LDA in a press release on Saturday alleged that Bangladesh Communist League politburo member and DLA candidate for Satkhira 1 Md Azizur Rahman as well as his activists were attacked at Phulbari under Tala in Satkhira Friday evening.
It said that AL activists attacked the election campaign of Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal candidate for Chandpur 2, Shahjahan Talukder, was attacked at Tolghar of the district town Friday night that left four activists injured and his public announcement system destroyed.
New Age correspondent in Pabna reported that at least seven BNP men were injured as AL men allegedly attacked two campaigning camps of Jatiya Oikya Front candidate for Pabna 3 KM Anwarul Islam at Bahadurpur and Shahajanpur Mor under Chatmohar upazila on Saturday evening.
Chatmohar Police Station OC Nasir Uddin said that the BNP candidate informed him about the incident.
United News of Bangladesh reported that at least five BNP men were injuries and 15 vehicles were vandalised in attack on the residence of BNP aspirant for Chattogram 8 constituency and his election campaign office allegedly by AL men at Chandogaon in the port city on Saturday evening.
On information, police rushed in and brought the situation under control, said Abul Bashar, officer-in-charge of Chandogaon Police Station.