Bangladesh to vote tomorrow, security stepped-up, Hasina seeks 4th term
Bangladesh stepped up security today with thousands of army troops along with paramilitary forces and police patrolling the streets, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks a record fourth term in tomorrow's general elections. Security agencies have been asked to keep an extra vigil on religious minority communities during the voting tomorrow amid reports of Hindu households being set on fire by miscreants.
6,00,000 security personnel have been deployed across the country
Media reports suggested at least three Hindu households were set on fire by miscreants between December 16 and 26, said Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda, while throwing light on the incidents. Law enforcement agencies in major cities are checking vehicles as part of their vigil while some 6,00,000 security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country.
13 killed, thousands injured in clashes between BNP, AL workers
Thirteen people have been killed, and thousands injured in clashes between supporters of Hasina's ruling Awami League (AL), and activists of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The opposition parties have alleged that thousands of its leaders and activists have been arrested to weaken them.
8 arrested for circulating 'provocative videos and rumors'
The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB arrested eight people yesterday night for circulating "provocative videos and rumors" on social media relating to the parliamentary election. Video-making materials, laptops, and mobile phones were seized from the detainees, officials said. Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council spokesman Kajol Debnath said minority community leaders also held a series of meetings with the Election Commission and law enforcement agencies.
Hasina's arch-rival Khaleda Zia has been barred from contesting polls
Debnath said the agencies promised to pursue a 'zero tolerance' policy against any attack or intimidation. Prime Minister Hasina is seeking to return to power for a fourth consecutive time in the elections, the 11th since Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan in 1971. Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, 73, Hasina's arch-rival and the head of the BNP, has been barred from contesting the polls.
Khaleda Zia serving a 10-year jail sentence on corruption charges
Khaleda Zia is serving a 10-year jail sentence on corruption charges The BNP has stayed out of the parliamentary process since 2014 when it boycotted the general election over poll-time non-party government demands. It has returned to parliamentary politics as part of a new alliance, National Unity Front (NUF), that was cobbled together three months ago with eminent lawyer Kamal Hossain as its convener.
NUF in a state of disarray without its top leaders
NUF however is in a state of disarray in the absence of its two top leaders Zia and her fugitive son Tarique Rahman, who's the acting party chief. While Zia is in jail on graft charges, Rahman is living in London ostensibly to evade the law, as a court has sentenced him to life imprisonment for masterminding a 2004 grenade attack on a rally.
2004 grenade attack had killed 24 AL leaders, injured Hasina
On 21st August 2004, a grenade attack took place at a rally organized by Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue. Over 13 grenades were thrown at the crowd that resulted in deaths of 24 AL leaders and activists. Sheikh Hasina was also injured in the attack.
Election commission has allowed Jamaat-e-Islami to contest general elections
Election Commission last week allowed hardline Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, a crucial ally of BNP, to contest the general elections, two months after it scraped the fundamentalist party's registration. Awami League's election posters are plastered on walls and poles across the country but those of opposition candidates are barely visible as they alleged that their supporters aren't staging street campaign because of police fear.