Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday said the commission was “embarrassed and saddened” over election violence, including Tuesday's attack on the motorcade of BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
BNP leaders met the CEC and Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary, demanding an end to attacks by “Awami League goons” and police harassment of their activists.
Hours after their meeting with the CEC, ruling AL leaders went to Nurul Huda. They said the AL men were being targeted across the country in which at least two of their activists were killed in Tuesday's violence, second day of the electioneering.
Earlier in the day, the CEC at a programme said he was embarrassed as violence broke out during campaign for the December 30 polls.
Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam told The Daily Star that election inquiry committees would look into the incidents.
“We will instruct the law enforcers to take steps in a meeting on Thursday [today] so that a conducive atmosphere prevails during campaign,” he said.
The EC is going to hold a meeting with top officials of law enforcement agencies to finalise the security plan, including deployment of army as a striking force during election, said officials.
“We have made a primary decision to deploy army as the striking force five days before the voting day,” Rafiqul added.
CEC Nurul Huda said the EC was deeply saddened and embarrassed over violence in Noakhali that left a man killed and the attack on Fakhrul's motorcade in Thakurgaon during campaigns.
He was briefing executive magistrates on their election duties at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the capital's Agargaon.
“The value of a person's life is much more precious than an election,” the CEC said.
“Don't create any obstacle to election campaign of any candidate,” he said, urging all political parties to show tolerance and abide by the electoral code of conduct.
The CEC also directed the magistrates to take steps to avoid any untoward incidents when they would perform their polls duties.
'STOP ATTACK ON BNP MEN'
In a letter to the CEC yesterday, BNP Vice-chairman Selima Rahman demanded that EC take measures to stop attacks by “AL goons” and police harassment of the BNP activists.
She alleged that law enforcers were harassing the BNP activists even after the allocation of electoral symbols.
The BNP candidates are not able to take part in electioneering as they are being attacked in different places across the country. “The situation reaches such a stage that we might not be able to appoint polling agents on the voting day,” she alleged while talking to reporters.
“We think the CEC is truly embarrassed because the EC cannot exercise its power.”
“If the CEC takes action, the election will be acceptable to all,” she added.
After meeting the CEC, the BNP delegation, led by Selima, met the IGP. During the meeting with the IGP, she alleged that the BNP was facing obstacles to electioneering.
She also sought security from police to conduct electioneering safely for the next 18 days. “Our leaders are being arrested. Those who are on bail are also being arrested in old cases.”
Selima said the police chief listened to their complaints with attention and assured her of ensuring security and safety of the campaigners in the future.
'AL MEN BEING TARGETED'
In the afternoon, HT Imam, co-chairman of AL election steering committee, alleged that the AL men were being targeted all over the country during electioneering and two of its leaders were killed on Tuesday.
A five-member delegation, led by him, went to the commission and urged it to take action against those involved in the violence.
“We have informed the commission that the main target of the violence centring the election is the Awami League men,” Imam, also Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's political adviser, told journalists after the meeting.
He also alleged that BNP supporters also carried out attacks on AL supporters and vandalised their houses in Patuakhali, Phulpur in Mymensingh, Chuadanga, Narsingdi, Manikganj, Gagni in Meherpur, and Shahjadpur in Sirajganj.
Imam said the attack on Fakhrul's motorcade took place due to BNP's internal feud and no AL men were present there.
The EC is neutral and taking an all-out effort to hold a free and fair election, he added.