1st phase polls in 732 UP amid concern of violence on Tuesday, CEC warns police to be held responsible for any negligence

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Dhaka, Mar 21: Police and concerned election officers will be held responsible if they show any kind of negligence in election, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad said on Monday.

The first phase of the elections Union Parishads (UP) will be held on Tuesday in 732 UP across the country amid the concern violence as the Election Commission (EC) said the culture of violence in election in the country has not been decrease rather increased.

At least 10 people have so far been killed and several hundreds have been injured in election related violence among the candidates, rival candidates and supporters till yesterday after the announcement of schedule. Such violence related death toll was only three in the last UP polls in 2011.

Even a chairman candidate was shot dead at Gyalenga in Ruma upazila yesterday. Police sources said that a gang of miscreants picked up Shantiha Tripura, 35, a member of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), from his house and took him to Adika Para at about 3:00am.

Later, the criminals fired gunshots at Shantiha and fled the scene, leaving him dead on the spot.

The EC sources said at least 120 writ petitions have been filed with the High Court till yesterday, and the higher court also has issued 64 rules, given 49 directives on different issues like violation of election rules, and suspended elections of seven UPs.

Meanwhile, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on Monday said the polls related violence takes place as they don’t get sufficient supports from other departments like law enforcing agencies in holding elections.

But the CEC warned that if any sort of elections related violence takes place, the concerned law enforcers and election officers will be held responsible for it and action will be taken against them.

Rakibuddin said that at a press conference at the EC’s media centre on the occasion of holding the first phase of UP polls across the country.

“The incidents of violence like killing are increasing more or less in the elections. The rate of polls related violence is higher in our country. It’s a matter of our character, tradition and culture. It will take time to get rid of this,” he said in reply to a query.

He, however, said that the EC is trying hard and soul to get rid of this culture of violence during elections but at the same time feels helpless as they are dependent on other departments in holding elections.

“We are dependent on other departments like law enforcing agency. We don’t get support of other departments as much as we expect. As a result such incidence of violence takes place,” he added.

The CEC further said that the elections have become centred on money and muscle power.

“Every candidate thinks that he/she is only capable. The candidates who have muscle power regard themselves eligible to win. Election has become money centred. Le the voters decide whom they want to elect,” he observed.

However, Rakibuddin said that the Commission has taken incentive measures before the election night so that none can dare to stuff the ballot boxes prior to the polls.

“We will take rapid action if anybody including law enforcer and election officer show any sort of negligence in elections. They will prevent the illegal activities by all their efforts,” he said.

The CEC said more than 1.8 lakh law enforcers including police, RAB, BGB, Armed Police Battalion and Ansar will deployed in the elections areas to maintain law and order situation in the centres.

There will be 20 police and Ansar including a police officer in each polling centre to ensure security. The number may be increased if necessary.

In addition, there will be executive and judicial magistrates in the field to take punitive measures.

EC sources said a total of 303 executive magistrates and 101 judicial magistrates have been deployed for the purpose. In each upazila four executive magistrates and one judicial magistrate have been deployed for rapid trial for the violation of electoral code.

Besides, monitoring cell headed by Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) has been opened in each upazila for the monitoring of entire security measures.

The law enforcers and magistrates will play their duties on the election day and the next day to main law and order.

CEC further said mobile and striking force of police and RAB will be there outside the centres to prevent any sort of violence.

He further said the Commission has already taken measures against two Members of Parliaments for the violation of electoral code.

Besides, Officers-in-Charge, UNO and District Election Officer have been withdrawn for negligence of duties and many had been warned, he added.

The CEC, however, said the Commission has taken all necessary measures for the voters so that they can cast their votes without intimidation.

He also urged the political parties, their supporters and candidates to cooperate EC to hold free, fair and credible elections.

A total of 1,19,40,741 voters will cast votes in 6,987 polling centres. Of them, 59,95,269 are male voters and 59,42,694 are female voters. The election will begin at 8am and continue till 4pm without any break.

A total of 36,456 candidates will contest the polls today. Of them, 3043 are chairman candidates, 7575 are member candidates from reserved seats and 25,847 are general member candidates.

From the chairman candidates, 54 have already been elected unopposed, from reserved seats 54 have been election uncontested and 179 have been election unopposed.

 As the UP election is going to the held under the political banner for the first time, 14 political parties out of 40 registered ones with EC have nominated their chairman candidates for the polls.

From the major political parties, Awami League has nominated 733 chairman candidates, BNP 613 and Jatiya Party 127. On the other hand, there are 1246 independent chairman candidates in the polls to contest.

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