Even the last day of electioneering was marred by attacks on four aspirants from the BNP and the Jatiya Party yesterday, leaving at least 15 people injured.
With the electioneering for the 11th parliamentary polls scheduled to end at 8:00am today, Awami League candidates were seen vigorously campaigning in different places across the country.
However, their archrival, the BNP candidates, and even candidates of Jatiya Party, AL's election ally, were hardly seen, in a scenario prevalent throughout the 17-day campaigning, when ruling party men electioneered whilst others allegedly faced attacks or police harassment.
Besides, at least 40 BNP-Jamaat men were arrested on different charges in different districts yesterday.
In Pabna, at least three supporters of Jatiya Oikyafront candidate for Pabna-1 Prof Abu Sayeed were injured when alleged AL men attacked his motorcade in Selonda Bazar area of Santhia upazila. However, Sayeed remained unhurt.
“We were out campaigning and when our motorcade reached Selonda Bazar area where a group of criminals attacked our team. They opened fire and vandalised [the vehicles],” Sayeed said, while talking to The Daily Star.
Asked, Tapon Haider Sun, Santhia upazila unit AL general secretary, said, “We are busy with our campaign. I don't know any news of such attacks.”
Contacted, Md Jahangir Hossain, officer-in-charge (OC) of Santhia Police Station, said, “There was a police protection team but the attackers came suddenly and attacked. Police charged batons to disperse the attackers and brought the situation under control quickly.”
Sayeed had come under criminal attacks repeatedly around 17 to 18 times since campaigning began on December 10.
Elsewhere in Chattogram, at least three persons were injured when miscreants attacked the motorcade of JP aspirant for Chattogram-16 Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury in Green Park area of Banshkhali upazila yesterday morning. However, the candidate was unhurt.
“I was campaigning in the area and when my motorcade reached Green Park area, miscreants threw stones targeting our motorcade and attacked us with sharp weapons,” Mahmudul, also a former mayor of the Chattogram City Corporation, told The Daily Star.
He, however, could not identify the attackers. But he alleged that police were present on the spot and played a silent role.
Contacted, Kamal Hossain, OC of Banshkhali Police Station said, “It was not a big incident. While they [the candidate and his supporters] were returning after electioneering some miscreants threw stones at their vehicles.”
This was the second attack on Mahmudul in a span of a week. On December 21, at least 24 of his activists sustained bullets injuries when alleged ruling party men attacked his rally in Banshkhali upazila's Chambal Bazar area.
In Cumilla, nine BNP men were injured when alleged AL men attacked the campaign of BNP candidate for Cumilla-5 constituency Md Yunus in Nimshar Mokam area under Burichang upazila around 2:00pm yesterday.
Md Masud, president of Nimshar Mokam union unit Jubo league, denied the allegation and said BNP men attacked AL men who were holding a meeting in the area.
Akul Chandra Biswas, OC of Burichang Police Station, said, “Hearing news of the violence, police rushed to the spot and safely rescued the BNP candidate from the spot and took him to his residence. If the candidate files any compliant, then we will take action.”
In Mymensingh, miscreants allegedly attacked the campaign of BNP's candidate for Mymensingh-3 M Iqbal Hossain and vandalised his car in Tangadipara village under Bokainagar union of Gouripur upazila yesterday afternoon.
Talking to journalists, Iqbal alleged that he had been campaigning at different spots since morning but when he came to Tangadipara at afternoon, miscreants attacked him with local weapons and vandalised his car to create panic among the BNP men and common people.
After the incident, Iqbal filed complaint with the local returning officer.
Iqbal also alleged that he, along with his supporters, faced obstructions in electioneering since the beginning of electioneering. He also claimed that police filed case against those who were involved BNP politics and even arrested some of them.
Contacted, OC of Gouripur Police Station Abdullah Al Mamun, said none filed any compliant regarding the incident. But he later heard that that villagers had clashed with Iqbal as he had gone there to distribute money.
Meanwhile in Kishoreganj, a local BNP leader died after suffering a cardiac arrest which was apparently triggered by police firing blanks at the residence of BNP's candidate for Kishoreganj-5 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Sararchar union under Bajitpur upazila yesterday evening.
The deceased was identified as Shaheed Miah, vice president of Sararchar union unit BNP.
BNP men alleged that Mujibur had held a press conference at noon at his residence where he expressed concerns over his life's security ahead of the polls. Later in the evening, police raided his residence where they fired blanks and beat up BNP men.
At that time, Shaheed Miah was in his nearby office.
Hearing the sound of gun fire and seeing police action on BNP men, Shaheed panicked and went into a cardiac arrest. Then, Shaheed was taken to the local hospital where on-duty doctors declared him dead, said Mazaharul Islam, nephew of Shaheed.
Contacted, Shafiqul Islam, inspector (investigation) of Bajitpur police station, said a clash had erupted between the supporters of AL and BNP and police opened fire to disperse them.
Asked about the death, Shafiqul said he knew nothing about the death.
In Cox's Bazar, at least seven people were injured when police charged baton on the activists of BNP's nominee for Cox's Bazar-3 candidate Lutfor Rahman Kajol in Kurushkul while they were going to attend the last day's election rally yesterday.
Police lobbed two rounds of tear shells and fired several rounds of blanks.
Sources said activists of Kajol were coming from Cox's Bazar city and the adjoining city areas to attend the rally at the tourist city at 3:00 pm.
But police charged baton on them at several places, including Kurushkul connecting road, Kolatoli, Kalur Dokan area and Bus terminal area.
Officer-in-charge of Cox's Bazar Sadar Model Police Station Farid Uddin Khandokar said they were carrying sticks during the procession.
They tried to disperse them when they refused to leave, he said.
In a different sort of incident in Manikganj, BNP candidate for Manikganj-1 Khondaker Abdul Hamid Dablu, whose nomination was declared valid by the High Court on December 24, has been virtually confined to his residence at Pachuria village under Ghiorupazila for the last two days.
Police were maintaining a round the clock presence in front of Dablu's residence and were arresting any BNP activist who came out of his home.
Talking to The Daily Star, Bablu said none of their supporters now come to meet Dablu in fear of arrests. Besides, AL men on motorcycles ride around the residence in intervals to spread panic.
Currently, Dablu has not been able to get out of his house and conduct electioneering, alleged Bablu.
Rifat Rahman Shamim, police superintendent in the district, rejected the allegation and said police had not gone to Dablu's residence.
Meanwhile in Narayanganj, police arrested five of a family, including the parents of a supporter of independent candidate for Narayanganj-3 Abdullah Al Kaiser, from Senpara area under Kanchpur upazila in the early hours of yesterday.
Police claimed that they had recovered drugs and locally-made weapons from the arrestees. The victims' relatives rejected the allegations.
Meanwhile, an Awami League supporter has been beaten to death allegedly by BNP supporters at Nolkot village of Sylhet Sadar upazila under Sylhet-1 constituency yesterday night at around 10:00pm.
The deceased, Koysor Miah, 35, son of Mahmud Ali of the village, is a Kuwait expatriate and had recently returned to Bangladesh.
Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran, president of Sylhet city AL and the convenor of AL candidate for Sylhet-1's electoral management committee, said, “He, along with some other supporter, went out of his house with the AL candidate's leaflet to distribute in the village and locked into an altercation with some BNP supporters.”
BNP supporters then apparently beat him to death.
Denying the allegation, Ali Ahmed, general secretary of Sylhet district BNP, said that the incident might have been related to an intra-party feud of AL.
SM Shahadat Hossain, officer-in-charge of Jalalabad Police Station, confirmed the incident without naming any accused and said police were looking into the matter.
Besides, police arrested eight BNP-Jamaat men in Mymensingh, two in Chattogram, two in Chapainawabganj and 28 in Sylhet yesterday on different criminal charges.
Since electioneering began on December 10, motorcades, campaign rallies and offices and even houses of at least 56 contestants, mostly from BNP, have been attacked by alleged supporters of AL at different places across the country.
Around 790 BNP-Jamaat men were arrested during the time while 1,175 people, including candidates, were injured from many parties, including the left ones.
The attacks did not even spare the candidates of Jatiya Party and Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, both electoral allies of the AL.
There was even no respite from violence even after deployment of army on December 24.
'SITUATION UNDER CONTROL'
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (Retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury yesterday claimed that the situation was under control. “I admit that a bit of tension is prevailing centring the election. I want to term it 'political heat',” he told reporters at the Nirbachan Bhaban.
He also said that armed forces would act only when police, Rapid Action Battalion and Border Guard Bangladesh failed to control any untoward incident during the election.
"There are police, Rab and BGB to maintain law and order. The armed forces will intervene where police, Rab and BGB fail. The armed forces are our last resort," he added.