Police picked up at least 14 polling agents of BNP candidates in three constituencies of Natore yesterday, creating fear among the party's leaders and activists on the eve of today's election.
Sabina Yasmin Chhobi, BNP candidate in Natore-2, said four BNP polling agents -- Zahir Uddin, Anam Ali, Nurul Daktar and Abdur Razzaq -- were picked up from different villages of Natore Sadar.
The six other polling agents of the party -- Ashraf Ali Dewan, Abdul Kuddus, Lutfar Rahman, Abdul Qaium, Rahidul Islam and Azizul Islam -- were picked up from Naldanga upazila, she claimed.
“We have informed the superintendent of police and he said he would look into it. I don't think he will do anything,” she said.
She alleged that the ruling Awami League men were using dozens of motorbikes in the area violating the code of conduct. Besides, they also threatened BNP leaders, activists and supporters.
Meanwhile, Daudar Mahmud, BNP candidate in Natore-3, said his polling agent Shamim Hossain was picked up from Singar upazila.
Two other polling agents -- Humayun Kabir and Surma Begum – were physically assaulted by the AL men, he alleged.
In Natore-1, police picked up Golam Rabbani, incumbent member of Jamnagar Union Parishad in Bagatipara upazila, from his home. His son Mister Ali, a polling agent of Natore-1 BNP candidate Kamrunnahar Shirin fled when police raided their home.
Shirin said police raided the area and threatened BNP supporters not to cast their votes.
“Police are saying that they will pick up BNP supporters if they are seen in the area,” said Farzana Sharmin, Shirin's main polling agent, said.
She further said the AL men destroyed the authorisation papers of nine polling agents in two centres of Lalpur upazila.
“We sought help from the army deployed in the area but they said they couldn't do anything before tomorrow [today] morning,” she said.
Contacted, Saifulla Al Mamun, superintendent of police in Natore, denied any detention of BNP polling agents.
“I have inquired into such allegations of detention in police stations. They said nothing like that happened,” he said.
He claimed a peaceful polls environment had prevailed in the district, a statement that was not endorsed by the BNP leaders and activists.
Zahidul Islam, a ward member of Kafuria union in Natore Sadar, said AL men attacked his house twice last week. Once on December 23 and then on December 26, he added.
He went into hiding out of fear, he claimed.
He said, “BNP agents are now afraid of going to polling centers.
“I am a representative of the people but I have no strength at all now.”
Amzad Hossain, of Chanpur village in Natore Sadar, said around two dozen unknown men vandalised his house on December 27 night and threatened him of dire consequences if he casts his vote.
He said, “They asked us to go to the polling centers if we can publicly cast votes for 'boat'.
“If the situation remains like this, how can we participate in vote?”
Meanwhile, three agents of Chattogram-9 BNP candidate Abu Sufiyan were arrested from Mehedibag area of the district.
The arrestees are: Anwarul Hossain Lipu, joint secretary of Chattogram city BNP; Osman Goni, president of Chattogram unit NAP; and Ariful Islam, a Jubo Dal leader.
They were arrested with their election documents after they attended a meeting at the residence of BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud around 7:30pm, Sufiyan said.
Mohammed Kamruzzaman, additional deputy commissioner of police in Chattogram, said the law enforcers arrested them for their alleged involvement in subversive activities.
The Detective Branch of Police arrested and handed them over to Chandgaon Police Station, he said.