Threats force polling agents to retreat from assigned duty: Bnp

Threats force polling agents to retreat from assigned duty: Bnp

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In the face of alleged threats from rivals, polling agents of BNP-backed mayoral aspirants in Dhaka and Chittagong started refusing to do election duty at the polling booths creating a fresh trouble for them to ensure voting by their supporters, according to BNP sources.
“BNP supported mayoral candidates and party high-ups are now worried as to whether they would be able to deploy polling agents in each polling booth and stay there till the results are declared, said a senior BNP leader.
He alleged that the ruling party backed candidates and their supporters are giving threats to the agents of BNP-backed mayoral and councillor candidates with assistance from law enforcers creating panic among the voters.
The allegations came hours before the city polls begins today. “We are now looking for new polling agents, as a significant numbers of agents selected earlier have already expressed their inability to be present at the polling booths and centres,” said Tabith Awal, the mayoral aspirants Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC).Talking to reporters he said a set of polling agents was ready earlier to do election duty, now many of them are declining to do their jobs out of fear because of threats from rival supporters.
“Many of them do not want to be the polling agents and they are refusing over telephone,” he said adding, “We are trying to enlist additional number of poling agents to face the situation.”
Brig Gen (Retd) ASM Hannan Shah, chief election coordinator of Mirza Abbas, the BNP-backed mayoral candidate for Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), said the ruling party baked candidates have been threatening polling agents by visiting their homes.
“They are threatening the polling agents with arrest, beating and ousting from the polling centres. It appears to be tactics of the ruling party backed candidates as police looked to be around when they give threat,” he said.
Hannan Shah, also a standing committee member of the BNP, however said that they have kept alternate poling agents in reserve in case of refusal of first set of agents and cover the gaps.
“We are apprehending that whether the voters would be able to go to the polling stations and cast their votes without intimidation and the poling agents can do their election duty as ruling party cadres are manoeuvring around,” he said.
In particular, he alleged the ruling party cadres, brandishing their weapons, are manoeuvring in Dewanpara area at Bhasantek in the city.
The chief election coordinator of Mirza Abbas accused ruling party lawmakers and ministers of violating the election code of conduct and said the Election Commission and the administration are playing roles of silent spectators.
Barrister Moudud Ahmed, chief election coordinator of Tabith Awal, at a press conference also alleged that the government is hatching conspiracy to use police and RAB not to allow polling agents of BNP baked candidates and oust them if some of them managed to go inside the polling stations.
He questioned the sincerity of the Election Commission in giving approval to huge number of poll observers to visit the polling centres particularly to the members of a little known organisation and he also termed it mysterious.
BNP international affairs secretary Dr Asaduzzaman Ripon at another press conference alleged that the polling agents of BNP supported candidates are giving intimation not to go to the polling stations.
Staff Reporter from Chittagong Anwar Hossain reports that Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, chief election coordinator of mayoral aspirant for Chittagong City Corporation M Monjur Alam, also alleged that the ruling party cadres are threatening the polling agents of the BNP backed candidates in assistance with police.
The ruling party cadres also vandalised different electioneering camp in the commercial capital, he claimed.
Statistics show that there are 15,544 booths under 2,701 polling stations in two cities. – Staff Reporter

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