BNP candidates of six constituencies in Rajshahi joined their voices in the city yesterday, demanding resignation of the chief election commissioner for his failure to ensure BNP candidates' safety during campaign.
Their demands included immediate deployment of army with magistracy power, to ensure safety for candidates and their supporters at their respective constituencies.
In a press conference held at Anuraag Community Centre at 11:30am, they claimed that they submitted complaints to the returning officers and forwarded copies of the complaints to the election commission, but did not see any improvement in the situation.
“The election commission has already failed,” said Mizanur Rahman Minu, BNP's candidate in Rajshahi-2.
“Police are arresting our activists without any specific allegations against them; AL men are tearing off our posters, torching election materials, and firing blank shots to drive out the [BNP] candidates and their men from campaigning,” said Minu.
Barrister Aminul Haque, BNP candidate of Rajshahi-1 said, his men cannot stay at their houses fearing police harassment and attacks by AL men.
BNP candidate of Rajshahi-4 Abu Hena said Bagmara upazila has become an example of political criminalisation with police support, where an Awami League leader blamed his party's lawmaker for patronising Sorbohara outlaws who brutally murdered one of his activists.
His supporters are not being able to carry out campaigning, he added.
As the BNP candidate of Rajshahi-6 Abu Sayeed Chand is in jail, his son Rakibul Hasan spoke at the press conference and said, he and his mother were campaigning for his father, but they are witnessing troubles and threats of killing.
“On Monday, I went to Charghat and we heard gunshots in the peaceful village. Moments later, some policemen came and told me to leave the area saying that they could not provide us security,” Hasan said.
“Although electoral laws allow us to campaign till 8pm, we are being forced to return home before sunset, fearing attacks,” he said.
Hasan said the ruling party kept his father in jail “unlawfully” ahead of election fearing their “confirmed defeat”. He said the lower court did not grant him bail despite High Court's order.
Abu Sayeed Chand is a consecutive two-term upazila chairman, both of his tenures falling during the Awami League rule.
The BNP leaders said there is no doubt that the party's candidate in Rajshahi-5 is Nadim Mostafa, who is still fighting a legal battle for candidacy. They said Mostafa was chased and driven out while he was campaigning at Puthia recently.
A large number of police and plainclothes law enforcers were seen at the press conference.