Border Guard Bangladesh personnel had no choice but to open fire to protect election officials and prevent unruly mobs from snatching ballot boxes during Tuesday's Union Parishad polls in Pirojpur and Cox's Bazar, the BGB chief said yesterday.
"We went there to provide security to presiding officers and guard the ballot boxes… The security force followed all the procedures while discharging duties," BGB Director General Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed said at a programme at the Pilkhana headquarters.
His comments came a day after five people were killed in Mathbaria upazila of Pirojpur and three in Teknaf upazila of Cox's Bazar in two incidents of firing by BGB men and police during the polls.
In the first phase of UP elections on Tuesday, several hundred supporters of a candidate tried to snatch ballot boxes from election officials and law enforcers, as the presiding officer of Safa Degree College centre in Dhanisafa UP declared void more than 700 ballots, all of which reportedly had stamps on Awami League's 'boat' symbol.
Aziz Ahmed said BGB men and election officials tried to calm them. But the appeal went in vain, and the force members fired warning shots.
As the mob attacked them with sharp weapons, the BGB men fired at the mob upon “a written permission” from the on-duty magistrate, he said.
About the incident in Teknaf, Aziz Ahmed said BGB personnel and police were left with no other option but to open fire as they had come under attack from all sides.
The BGB chief described the two incidents as very unexpected and unwanted.
He, however, said such incidents are not uncommon in case of maintaining law and order.
Meanwhile, Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Mohammad Zabed Ali termed the incidents of violence unfortunate and asked law enforcement agencies to act more carefully in the second phase of election slated for March 31.
He was speaking at a view-exchange meeting on UP election in Chandpur.
"We took sufficient measures… The law enforcement agencies must remain alert next time so that they can avoid recurrence of such incidents in the areas that saw violence," he said.
Twelve people were killed in six districts, as violence broke out in many polling centres during Tuesday's election.
In the meantime, Shahjahan Mridha, 32, who was injured in pre-polls violence in Patuakhali's Dasmina Upazila on Monday, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital yesterday morning.
Speaking at a programme in Tangail yesterday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Tuesday's election was held in a very free and fair manner. The situation in all parts of the country, except for one or two places, was normal.
Enquiry teams are going to be formed to probe the incidents of violence. And the Election Commission is taking action against the persons responsible, he said.
CASE FILED IN PIROJPUR
Mathbaria police sued around 1,300 anonymous people from Mathbaria and Bhandaria upazilas for obstructing government officials, attacking policemen and election officials, and trying to snatch ballot boxes at Safa Degree College centre.
Sub-inspector Sarwar Ali filed the case with Mathbaria Police Station.
Police, however, didn't include in the list of the accused the name of Mirajul Islam, vice chairman of Bhandaria Upazila Parishad and secretary of the upazila's AL unit, who was allegedly responsible for creating a situation that led the BGB men to open fire.
Contacted, Walid Hossain, superintendent of police in Pirojpur, said the names of the persons responsible would come up in the investigation, and then action would be taken against them.
No one was arrested in connection with the incident.