The Awami League used party men, police and administration officials to influence the 11th parliamentary polls, BNP-led Jatiya Oikyafront leaders said yesterday at a “mass hearing”.
The alliance leaders said ghost cases were filed against its activists and they were harassed and detained without warrants.
“There was no voting on December 30 and so the government formed from it is not valid,” said Maj Gen (retd) AMSA Amin, who had run with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gonoforum ticket from Kurigram-2.
The Oikyafront arranged the “mass hearing” on “so-called parliamentary election” at the Supreme Court Bar Association auditorium. A number of the alliance candidates had filed election petitions with the High Court challenging the December 30 polls results.
At least 41 candidates testified during the over seven-hour-long session of the “mass hearing” before a panel that included Dr Kamal and former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Prof Emajuddin Ahmed.
Leaders of the BNP and its political allies said they, by taking part in the December 30 polls, had “unmasked the ruling party”. Top BNP leaders, including its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Vice-Chairman Abdullah Al Noman and Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan attended the programme.
Sabina Yasmin, who ran from Natore-2, said, “I was getting ready to go to the polling stations after learning that my polling agents had been driven out of there on election day.”
She said she could not cast her vote even because her house had been padlocked from the outside that morning.
Detectives in plainclothes picked up her husband -- BNP Organising Secretary Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu -- on December 12. Dulu is now in Keraniganj jail.
Sabina said on December 20 when they were distributing campaign flyers, 30 to 40 AL men harassed her and 15 women working for her campaign.
Four days later, about 500 armed AL men attacked her campaign team of 200, most of whom were women, said Sabina, adding that she along with her activists took cover in a drug store.
They were confined to the shop until police reached the spot two hours later, she said.
“I hired fewer men [for the campaign] because they used to get clobbered with hammers,” she said.
Sabina claimed that she could not campaign after December 24.
Anisur Rahman Talukder, who was the BNP candidate for Madaripur-3, said the AL had repeatedly been saying that “the opposition party didn't campaign, didn't have posters printed, and didn't ask for votes”.
Whenever they tried to campaign, they were harassed, attacked, and their posters were torn, he said.
Several other candidates echoed him. Law enforcers cordoned off candidates' houses and when they or their activists came out of the houses, they were picked up, often without any arrest warrants, they said.
Anisur said he learnt from his sources on election day morning that 80 percent of the votes had been cast between 2:30am and 5:00am that day.
BNP leader Rumana Mahmud, who ran from Sirajganj-2, said police fired at her and her activists when they were campaigning on December 14. Her aide Mery Begum lost her eyesight in the attack, she said.
Sardar Sakhawat Hossain Bakul, BNP nominee for Narsingdi-4, alleged that his polling agents were ousted from 152 of 155 polling centres in his constituency on election day.
Nitai Roy Chowdhury, who ran from Magura-2 and bagged around 65,000 votes, alleged that before election day, police went to every ward, union and village in his constituency and threatened his party leaders and activists, detained some of them. They also harassed the women, he claimed.
BNP candidate for Satkhira-1 Habibul Islam Habib said he was nominated several times by the party and had bagged 1.46 lakh votes in the 2008 polls.
He said it was incredible that he got only 17,445 votes and had not got a single vote in 20 of 188 polling stations.
Other defeated candidates of the 11th parliamentary election also accused the ruling party, Election Commission, officials of the administration, intelligence and security personnel of violating the constitution and stripping people their right to vote.
Thanking the alliance members for arranging the “mass hearing”, Dr Kamal said, “It [December 30 polls] cannot be said an election but an event where the government in the name of election staged a farce.”
The government deprived the country's people of their rights, violated the constitution, and insulted democracy, he said.
Without mentioning any name, Dr Kamal said state servants who were in the administration should be ashamed of themselves because they forgot their constitutional duties and became servants of “a single individual”.
The eminent jurist also said BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia should be immediately released, unconditionally.
“It is a pity that even after 48 years of independence, we have to raise such demand for those who contributed to democracy,” he said, calling for unity to “restore” democracy in the country.