Seven candidates belonging to the opposition camp have come under attack in different districts, allegedly by Awami League men. Candidates carrying the “sheaf of paddy” have repeatedly been targeted for attacks throughout the campaign and we are sorry to see that in many cases, the police come up with the argument that they have received no complaint or are still trying to apprehend the attackers. What is alarming in the run-up to the election on December 30 is that the level of violence has been upped significantly and the whole idea of creating a “level playing field” for all parties taking part is increasingly being viewed as remote.
The Election Commission (EC) has directed the Inspector General of Police to withdraw three officers-in-charge following attacks on top BNP leaders. Violence is increasing not decreasing. While the EC's move is commendable, will it be enough? This question comes to the fore primarily because on the one hand, opposition candidates are not being allowed to canvass for votes in peace while on the other hand, arrests of opposition party activists continue in full swing.
Indeed, countrywide reports tell us both leaders and party activists are being arrested with a slew of cases being filed against them, mostly on the charge of sabotage. That we have a nationwide crackdown on the opposition is now plainly clear. While the EC claims that there have been isolated incidents of violence, the news coming in is anything but that. Unless the EC exerts its authority over the prevailing law and order situation, its moral authority will continue to be questioned.