Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on Saturday said ‘social tension’ is the major reason behind election violence.“Now there’s instability at all levels of society…children are killed over trivial matters. The value of life has become the cheapest now. The value of everything other than life is on the rise” Rakibuddin bemoaned.
The CEC came up with the observation at a post-UP polls briefing at the media center of the Election Commission Secretariat.
He also observed that the sourness was high as the UP election was very competitive, which is another main reason behind the violence.
The CEC said every candidate thinks he is the most competent and does not care much what the voter think. This is why they are desperate to win the polls at any cost.
He said it will have to bring a basic change in the social perception where the press has significant responsibility to motivate people for the change.
“We’re shocked at the casualties in the election violence and the Commission also expressed deep shock in this regard,” Kazi Rakibuddin said.
Responding to a question about election monitoring across the country, he said the staggered Union Parishad elections have been completed in a free and fair manner, except a few incidents of irregularities.
The CEC hoped that there will be a time in the future when the Commission will be able to arrange elections in Bangladesh without the help of law enforcement agencies as in many other countries.
The election atmosphere improved gradually as the latest phases of the election were fairer than the first ones, he said.
Rakibuddin said three people were killed and voting in 36 polling stations out of 6298 across the country was cancelled on the sixth phase of the UP election on Saturday.
Besides, long queues of both females and males were seen in the polling stations in the final phase, he added.
Some 500 people were fined a total of Tk 12.86 lakh on charge of election irregularities and violation of the election code of conduct in the UP election. Of them, 12 people were sentenced to different jail terms.
With the 6th phase election to 698 UPs, the EC completed the 9th countrywide UP election, which was partially held along the political party line for the first time in the country’s history.
Voting in the in the 6th and final phase election to 698 union parishads (UPs) of 82 upazilas of the country’s 64 districts ended on Saturday afternoon amid sporadic violence that left four people dead in Noakhali, Feni, Mymensingh and Sunamganj districts.The balloting in the polls to the lowest tire of the local government started at 8am and continued till 4pm without any break.
Meanwhile, around 129 people, including 28 in Sonagazi upazila of Feni 20 in Mymensingh and Brahmanbaria each, 5 cops in Comilla, 5 in tangail, four in Sunamganj 2 in Noakhali, three in Sharsha upazila of Jessore district and an AL-backed chairman candidate in Satkania upazila of Chittagong, were injured in the election violence.
Eight BNP-backed candidates boycotted the elections in Savar upazila of Dhaka and Pabna districts on allegation of various irregularities.
Voting at a polling centre in Charkadira union of Kamalganj upazila was suspended as a clash took place between supporters of two member candidates in Laxmipur.
According to reports reaching the UNB news desk, a man, Nur Hossain Shipon, 22, son of Abdul Karim of Dakkhhin Char Kandia union, was shot dead and eight people were injured in a clash between rival groups at a polling centre in Sonagazi upazila of Feni.
Rezaul Haque, superintendent of police of Feni, said a clash erupted between the supporters of AL-backed chairman candidate Mosharaf Hossain and BNP- backed candidate Shamsuddin Khokan in Tofael Ahmed High School polling centre at Dakkhhin Char Kandia union in the morning.
The rival party men exchanged gunfire during the clash, leaving Shipon dead on the spot.
Four policemen, three Ansar members, two assistant presiding officers, two female polling officers also suffered bullet wounds during the clash.
Besides, 20 people sustained injuries, including nine with bullet, in clashes at different polling centers of the upazila.
In Noakhali, Arafat, 22, was killed and another was injured critically in a clash between the supporters AL-backed chairman candidate Amir Hossain and rebel candidate Akbar Hossain at Bhelanagar madarasah centre in Newazpur union.
Araft, a student of Dhaka Polytechnic Institute, sustained severe injures as rivals chopped him with sharp weapons during the clash. Later, he died in Comilla on way to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said Sudharam model thana officer-in-charge Anwar Hossain.
Injured Zahid was admitted to sadar hospital.
In Mymensingh, police opened fire during a clash between the supporters of two member candidates at Pukuria Government Primary School polling station in Shaltia Union of Goforgaon upazila at noon, leaving Shajahan injured with bullets.
Shahjahan was declared dead when taken to upazila health complex. Twenty other people were injured in the clash.
In Sunamganj, a young man, Kohinur Chowdhury, 35, was killed and four people were injured in a clash between supporters of two member candidates at Paikurhati Government Primary School polling station in Dharmashala upazila.
Harun-or-Rashid Chowdhury, superintendent of police of Sunamganj, said the clash began when the supports of two rival member candidates locked into an altercation over the election results.
Earlier, some 190 AL chairman contenders were elected unopposed in the first five phases of the violence-marred elections beginning in March last.
Some 3,200 candidates contested the election for chairman posts, while some 30,000 others for member posts and reserved seats of the UPs.
In the wake of election violence that killed over 100 people, the EC has taken a few preventive measures in the final phase election.