EC asks law enforcers to go tough
Chief Election Commission Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad yesterday directed the law enforcers to open fire on criminals if they try to occupy polling stations or stuff ballot boxes during the union parishad polls.
Law enforcers must stay alert at the polling centres to make sure that nobody can occupy those until the last bullet of lawmen is spent, the CEC told a meeting at the National Economic Council auditorium, said meeting sources.
The Election Commission organised the meeting to discuss law and order with law enforcement agencies ahead of the first phase of the UP polls on March 22.
Top officials of the home ministry, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, superintendents of police and deputy commissioners of districts were present.
A total of 738 unions will go to polls on March 22 and 650 unions on March 31. Polls to around 2,800 more will be held in four more phases till mid-June.
Conflict might arise within the grassroots of the ruling Awami League as several pro-AL candidates are running for the same post in many unions, EC officials told The Daily Star quoting intelligence officers.
Taking this opportunity, militants might carry out subversive activities.
The authorities must step up anti-militant drive ahead of the polls to avoid such a possibility, suggested the officers.
Speaking at the meeting, an SP complained that police in some cases face pressure from AL leaders if any party man is arrested for alleged electoral irregularities.
Another SP called upon the EC to closely cooperate with the returning officers so that they don't give in to any pressure from politicians.
An official of Border Guard Bangladesh feared that incidents of arms smuggling across the border might rise ahead of the polls.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Rakibuddin sought cooperation from the political parties, candidates and their supporters to hold the UP elections in a fair and peaceful manner.
About filing of nominations by candidates, he said the commission has a plan to introduce an online system for it.
Earlier, the BNP repeatedly alleged that its nominees could not submit nominations in many unions as they were obstructed by AL men.
At least 60 AL chairman aspirants are set to be elected uncontested in the first phase and at least 13 in the second phase of the UP polls, according to EC statistics.
On the other hand, BNP candidates could not file nominations in 70 UPs in the first phase and 61 UPs in the second phase of the elections.
For the first time in the country's history, elections to UP chairman post are going to be held on partisan lines.
Forty political parties are registered with the EC. Of them, 16 are contesting the polls in the first phase and 15 in the second phase.