BNP on Saturday demanded that the Election Commission immediately stop the ‘wholesale’ arrest of its leaders and activists, release its arrested men and reshuffle the local administration.
“Police drives continue across the country…the wholesale arrest continues. Our leaders and activists can’t stay at their houses. But there’s no remedy,” BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed told reporters after a meeting between a BNP delegation and Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and his colleagues.
Moudud led the BNP team at the meeting that lasted for over two hours from 3pm at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the city.The BNP leader said their seven probable candidates have already been arrested and sent to jail. “It has become difficult to get bail of our leaders and activists from the lower court as it remains under the control of the government,” he added.
“We think there’s no minimum environment for holding a fair election in Bangladesh. This atmosphere is getting worse day by day. The Election Commission has failed to resist the government’s move to implement its blueprint,” said Moudud.
In a letter submitted to EC, BNP also demanded withdrawal of controversial officials of the Election Commission, Public Administration and Home ministries and the Police Headquarters as well as the field-level ones.“The deputy commissioners, superintendents of police, deputy commissioners in metropolitan areas, who are staying for more than two years in their existing workplaces, must be withdrawn,” BNP told the EC.
Besides, all upazila nirbahi officers and officers-in-charge of police stations will have to be transferred, the party said.About their demand for reshuffle in the administration, Moudud Ahmed said the existing civil administration and police administration are pre-set one by the government.
Deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers are respectively returning officers and assistant returning officers. “Although they belong to the mainstream bureaucracy, they play a very crucial role in the election. Similarly, SPs and OCs also play the important role in the election,” he added.
Moudud said all of them — DCs, UNOs, SPs and OCs — are working under the government. “A political government is in power now. All ministers and MPs can enjoy all privileges and use their power. So, it’ll in no way be possible to ensure a level-playing field in this circumstance,” he said.
He said the Commission could have stopped the wholesale arrest and reshuffled the administration to make the polls atmosphere effective.“The election will finally be a farce. But we don’t want the polls to turn into a farce. It’s the last test for our nation. If we can’t overcome the test, we don’t think we’ll be able to restore democracy in Bangladesh,” he said.
Moudud said the Election Commission assured them of taking measures over their demands.The BNP delegation members include its election steering committee chief Nazrul Islam Khan, standing committee members Mirza Abbas and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, and BNP chairperson’s adviser Abdul Awal Mintoo.