12:00 AM, December 29, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:14 AM, December 29, 2018

'Don't stay home'

BNP candidate for Jashore-3 asked party men during campaign to avoid police harassment

“I am requesting all leaders and activists of the BNP and its front organisations and alliance partners not to stay at home or go to work. Also, don't sit at any tea stall or any crowded place near the streets and campaign after evening until further instruction.”

Aninda Islam Amit, BNP candidate in Jashore-3, wrote this on Facebook a few days ago fearing police harassment ahead of tomorrow's national polls. 

Amit said he took to social media to warn his supporters as he believed they might be arrested if they showed their allegiance in public.

At his home in Ghope area of Jashore town Wednesday morning, these correspondents saw a small crowd of women. All of them were relatives of recently arrested BNP men. They came seeking Amit's help for their bail.

Some came for their husbands, some for their sons and some others for their grandchildren.

“So far, more than 100 leaders and activists of the BNP and its associate bodies have been arrested. If all of them get arrested like this, who would work for the 'sheaf of paddy' on the election day?” a frustrated Amit told The Daily Star.

“The situation is very difficult…. My activists can't accompany me on the campaign trail fearing arrest.”

He also alleged that ruling party men beat up his supporters and tore posters of his campaign.

“You won't see any of my posters in the entire Jashore town.”

He then took out his phone and played CCTV footage of some people tearing BNP posters off the walls at night.

He said he had lodged at least 20 complaints with the returning officer, talked to an EC member and the superintendent of police in the district. “But nothing worked.”

Amit, son of late BNP leader Tariqul Islam, also claimed that he was attacked five times while campaigning. “My constituency has 14 unions but I could not campaign in five of them because of attacks and threats.”

While returning from Amit's house, these correspondents saw posters of candidates from the ruling and other parties on different walls in the area.

Later in the day, law enforcers picked up three BNP leaders from Amit's vehicle. They were campaigning at that time.

On the other hand, the ruling party contender -- Kazi Nabil Ahmed -- was seen holding a rally in Daratana intersection area in presence of police.

Apurbo Hasan, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station, denied police harassment of BNP men. “We are arresting only those who are accused in different cases.”

Sahidul Islam Milon, president of Jessore AL, said they did not attack any BNP men. “You can see the polls environment is very festive here.”

Visiting a number of constituencies in Jashore, Kushtia, Chuadanga and Meherpur, The Daily Star saw similar pictures.

These correspondents met BNP candidates in Kushtia 3 and 4 Zakir Hossain Sarker and Mehedy Ahmed Rumi at the party office in the district.

At least 12 cases have been filed against 420 BNP men and 65 of them have been arrested, Zakir said. Police have even accused several dead people in those cases, he alleged.

“So you can say they have filed cases against all the leaders of the local BNP except me,” said Zakir, adding that ruling party men attacked him when he went to a local newspaper office recently. “When I called police, they did not come to rescue me.”

He claimed that he filed around 20 complained to the returning officer but “the situation did not change”.

When one of these correspondents was taking to Mehedy Ahmed Rumi, he received a phone call and was informed that their local office was locked from outside by ruling party men.

“At least 20 cases have been filed against BNP leaders and activists in my area,” he said. He declined to comment on police role in this matter.

“People are so scared that they might not come out of their home and vote for their favorite candidate.”

Contacted, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbub-Ul-Alam Hanif, contender for Kushtia-3, said he would not make any comment.

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