12:00 AM, December 29, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:15 AM, December 29, 2018

Security scaled up

Army personnel check vehicles in city, other places; CEC expects festivity in polls tomorrow

Security was stepped up further yesterday in the capital and elsewhere with the chief election commissioner expressing hope that tomorrow's polls would be held in a festive atmosphere.

Apart from members of the Border Guard Bangladesh, army personnel were seen checking vehicles at several places in the capital, Gazipur, Tongi and Narayanganj for the first time since their deployment on December 24.

Besides, law enforcers were spotted searching handbags and luggage of pedestrians and rickshaw passengers in different parts of the country.

Security measures were tightened following a spate of violence during the 17-day electioneering that ended yesterday morning.

Motorcades, campaign rallies, offices and houses of at least 56 candidates, mostly from the BNP, have been attacked allegedly by Awami League supporters across the country since the electioneering began on December 10, according to media reports.

Army personnel check inside a vehicle in Naryanganj on December 28, 2018. Photo: Star

During the period, around 790 BNP-Jamaat men were arrested and 1,175 people, including candidates and supporters of several parties, were injured in attacks.

Against this backdrop, CEC KM Nurul Huda said tomorrow's polls will be held in a peaceful atmosphere.

"The highest number of candidates is participating in this election. We hope the polls will be held in a festive atmosphere," he told reporters after visiting the results announcement centre at the Nirbachan Bhaban.

Asked about the BNP's claim that voters are still in a state of fear, the CEC said, "This will be proved wrong. We are prepared. The voters will cast ballots amid festivity.

"I expect that law enforcers will ensure security so that people can vote freely and return home safely,” Huda said.

He also asked the law enforcement agencies to give special attention to security of minority communities during voting.

Law enforcers will have to be watchful so that no one can bar any voter from choosing his or her preferred candidates through ballots, the CEC said.

Briefing reporters in the evening, EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said, "All preparations have been made. Ballot papers have been dispatched to all districts."

He further said the assistant returning officers will start handing over ballot papers and other materials to the presiding officers this morning.

"The election will be peaceful," the secretary hoped.

Yesterday, army personnel were seen checking vehicles at different parts of the capital.

At the Bangla Motor intersection, a group of army men was checking documents of vehicles while another group was searching boots of vehicles around noon.

The situation was similar in Narayanganj.

Jasim Uddin Haider, additional deputy commissioner (revenue) in Narayanganj, told The Daily Star that army personnel were checking vehicles as part of measures to thwart plots to carry out subversive activities.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said they have taken adequate security measures to check violence and influence of muscle power, and ensure that voters return home safely after casting ballots.

“We are ready to tackle any situation,” he said, adding that police will provide security to the candidates as well as their agents at the polling centres.

Rapid Action Battalion Director General Benazir Ahmed urged people to go to the polling centres and vote without any fear.

"Always remember that law enforcers are with you in any adverse situation," he said at a religious gathering at Jagannathpur Singia Shahapara village in Thakurgaon.

The law enforcement agencies have taken all necessary measures, he mentioned.

The Rab DG said it is regrettable that people from religious minorities face attacks whenever an election approaches.

Benazir further said those who attack members of minority communities are a disgrace to the nation and should not live in this country.

"If any vested group tries to create anarchy in the election, the law enforcers will take stern action against them," he added. 

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