Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday directed law enforcers to deal with the law and order situation with an iron fist in case there was any violence on the polling day today.
“If anyone tries to create any sort of disorder at the polling centres, law enforcers will bring the situation under control,” he said at a press conference at the capital's Nirbachan Bhaban.
“We will investigate and take action in case we find any negligence on part of the law enforcement agencies or their attitude remains indifferent while performing election duties,” he said.
A total of 6.08 lakh law enforcers, including police, Ansar and VDP personnel, have been deployed for polls duties.
The CEC also asked all election officials to work in a neutral manner so that the election did not become questionable. “Perform duties rising above your personal views and likings for parties. We don't want a questionable election.”
“You should bear in mind that a candidate may face harm because of your attitude towards him or her,” he said.
Huda then citied different media reports that said many polling agents of different political parties were being harassed. “Police should not harass any polling agents … polling agents should get all-out security during the election.”
He urged all polling agents not to leave the polling stations before the announcement of results from the voting centres. “If anyone asks you [polling agents] to leave the polling station, take help from executive magistrates and law enforcers.”
About the incidents of violence during electioneering, the EC chief said, “Those were unexpected … We urged all not to create any violence but it is unfortunate that there were some during campaigning.”
He said they had directed the authorities concerned to investigate those incidents.
According to media reports, motorcades and polls campaigns of at least 56 candidates, mostly of the BNP, came under attack; some 1,190 people were injured and over 800 BNP-Jamaat men arrested during electioneering between December 10 and 28 for the parliamentary polls.
The CEC urged all voters to cast their votes without any fear and influence. “Your vote is valuable, cast it without any fear and for candidates of your choice.”
He also urged all candidates and their supporters to abide by the electoral code of conduct while voting.
He added that today's election was a participatory one as candidates from all registered parties were taking part. “This election will be held amid festivities”.
The remarks came at a time when many are doubtful about casting their votes freely after electioneering was marred by violence.
Election commissioners Mahbub Talukdar, Rafiqul Islam, Kabita Khanam and Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury were also present at the briefing where the CEC did not take any questions.