Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) yesterday said the use of arms publicly in the Union Parishad (UP) polls along with violence and irregularities is ominous for democracy.They said at least 71 people were killed and most of them from the ruling Awami League and over six thousands were injured in election related violence in the last three phases of UP polls.
They said violence and irregularities marked the recent UP polls compared to the past elections, which is setting bad trends in the election system of the country whereas the foundation of democracy is fair elections.
The observation came at a press conference organised by Shujan at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the capital, with its president and former adviser to the caretaker government M Hafizuddin Khan in the chair.
Among others, Shujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumder, central committee member Muhammad Jahangir and central coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarker, spoke on the occasion.
Dilip Kumar Sarker in the keynote paper said the fourth phase elections of Upazila Parishad in 1988 claimed 80 lives but the ongoing UP polls claimed 71 lives so far, leaving over six thousand injured.
He also said the highest number of death toll was in Barisal and Barisal divisions by 16 each, Chittagong 13, Khulna 10, Rajshahi 8, Mymensingh 7 and Rangpur one.
About the party-wise casualties, he said at least 29 people from ruling party Awami League were killed, two from BNP, one from Jatiya Party, one from JP (Monju), one from Jonosonghati Samity. Besides, seven were AL rebel or independent candidates were killed and 16 general people were killed in the ongoing UP polls, he added.
He also said that at least 14 people were killed by police, 28 by the clash of chairman candidates and 17 by the clash of member candidates.
The keynote paper also said that 150 chairman candidates were elected unopposed from the first to the fourth phases of UP polls which is not a good sign.
The paper also criticised the selling of nomination in exchange of money and alleged that the ruling Awami League is ahead of other parties in connection of selling nominations without caring the honest candidates.
M Hafizuddin Khan said, “We are frightened when we see that stumping of ballots is taking place before police. Many were elected unopposed in 2004 general election. We also see it here in UP polls. if such trends go on, it will be dangerous.”
“Election is the foundation of democracy. So the elections have to be free and fair,” he added.
Badiul Alam Majumder said, “We have seen the use of arms in the UP polls. If arms are used, it is an ominous sign for democracy.”
Muhammad Jahangir said the violence and irregularities are taking place for holding UP polls under party banners.
“The mass media should play important role where the local body polls will be under party banner in future. Though EC has law but it has failed to hold fair election. The fair elections depend on who are in the EC,” he added.