No elections if EC not satisfied
The Election Commission has expressed its tough stance on the by-poll in Bhola-3 constituency, even warned of cancelling election results, as activists of Awami League and BNP clashed there yesterday centring poll campaigns.
Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda yesterday asked the electoral enquiry committee to investigate the incident, which left 15 persons including a former lawmaker injured.
"We will have no choice but to cancel the election result if the poll does not satisfy us," he told reporters. "I hope we will get the enquiry committee's report today."
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shakhawat Hossain told The Daily Star, "We will have to think of stopping the election if law and order deteriorates further."
The EC yesterday also asked the police authorities to withdraw at least nine sub-inspectors from the constituency. Two platoons Rab members will be deployed in the area today to maintain law and order situation.
After the incident, Awami League candidate Nurunnabi Chowdhury Shawon and BNP contestant Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed blamed each other for the clash.
Police said former BNP lawmaker Nazimuddin Alam went to a local market to hold an electoral meeting without informing them and made provocative remarks in his speech. This caused tension among leaders and workers of both the parties, which ultimately led to the clash.
Nazimuddin was injured in the clash.
Following the incident, BNP threatened to pull out of the by-poll if the EC does not deploy army. But the AL termed the clash a "drama" of BNP as it is looking for a way to avoid the election fearing confirm defeat.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in a statement yesterday said they would launch a tough movement if the army were not deployed in the constituency before the election.
"We will wage a mass-movement against the government if it wants to stage a one-sided election and if a congenial atmosphere is not created," Khaleda said, protesting the ruling party activists' attack on Nazimuddin.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said under the present situation it is now almost impossible to hold an election in Bhola. "We will have to seriously reconsider BNP's participation in the by-poll if the situation prevails," he told reporters at a press briefing at his Motijheel chamber.
At an AL press briefing party's advisory council member Tofail Ahmed, however, termed Bhola a land of peace, saying the AL is ready to extend all sorts of cooperation to make the election free, fair and acceptable to all.
"BNP is making provocative remarks to worsen the situation so that it can pull out of the election fearing confirm defeat," he said at the party president's Dhanmondi office.
He alleged that Nazimuddin in his speech termed the visiting AL lawmakers terrorists and asked BNP activists to equip themselves with bamboo sticks against them.
Police and witnesses said Nazimuddin Alam, chief coordinator of Hafizuddin Ahmed's electoral campaign, went to Satanibazar area in Farashganj union under Lalmohan upazila for electioneering.
Following his remarks, supporters of both the parties locked in a clash. They chased each other and at one stage the BNP activists left the area.
Nazimuddin alleged that the ruling party activists attacked his meeting and beat him.
On the other hand, AL leader Tofail alleged that a group of BNP cadres led by Nazimuddin made an attack on the local AL office.
Talking to reporters, BNP leader Mominul Haque claimed that Farashganj union Jubo League president Bulbul, and Chhatra League leaders Jasim and Laizu led the attack on BNP activists.
But Jasim said BNP workers beat him in front of Nazimuddin and damaged at least four microbuses before leaving the area.
On Wednesday night, supporters of both the parties engaged in a clash in Chandpur village under Lord Hardinge union, which left 10 BNP workers injured. Yet another clash took place Tuesday night following an attack on a Jubo League worker.
Asked about yesterday's incident, Lalmohan Police Station OC Delwar Hossain Khan told The Daily Star that as per electoral code of conduct all have to inform the police before 24 hours of holding any meeting or rally, but Nazimuddin went to Satanibazar without informing them.
He said necessary actions would be taken against those who were behind the incident after conducting a proper investigation.
Later, Hafizuddin Ahmed during a press briefing at Bhola Press Club said he would observe the situation one or two more days and then consider whether to participate in the election.
"At least 200 workers of BNP came under attacks since the election campaign started. Even police and election commission are taking sides," he alleged.
While Nurunnabi Chowdhury Shawn told reporters, miscreants led by Nazimuddin Alam attacked his workers and later vandalised their own car to put the blame on Awami League.
"They [BNP] are mounting attack on Awami League after learning confirm defeat in the up-coming poll," he added.