Four city polls: Keep watch on mosques, madrassahs

Taib Ahmed

The Election Commission on Thursday asked the law enforcement agencies and the local administrations to keep vigil on mosques and madrasahs to prevent any religious campaign by Hefajat over civic polls in Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet.
The mayoral polls in the four cities are set for June 15.
The EC gave the instruction at a closed door meeting with senior home ministry officials and the top brass of the law enforcement agencies.
Chaired by chief election commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad the meeting held at the National Executive Council auditorium in the city worked out the strategy for law and order maintenance during the mayoral polls in the four cities, said EC officials.
Additional home secretary Mainuddin Khandaker, inspector general of police Hassan Mahmood Khandker, Special Branch additional IG Javed Patwary, Rapid Action Battalion director general Mokhlesur Rahman, BGB deputy director general Colonel Khandaker Obaidul Ahsan, Bangladesh Coast Guard deputy director general Commodore Mohiuddin Rajib, Ansar-VDP director Lieutenant Colonel Pabitra Kumar Saha, four divisional commissioners, police commissioners of four metropolitan police and senior officials of intelligence agencies attended the meeting.
Returning officers, assistant returning officers and other officials also attended.
EC officials, who attended, later said that a Rajshahi City Corporation official quoting media reports raised the issue of Hefajat.
The RCC official said that Hefajat was campaigning against ruling Awami League-backed candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton branding him as ‘anti-Islam.’
The meeting took the decision to keep all mosques and madrasahs under vigilance to prevent Hefajat’s propaganda campaign during the electioneering, a senior EC assistant secretary told New Age.
In the meeting, additional home secretary Mainuddin Khandaker expressed the fear that opposition BNP might create chaos for political mileage if it faces the prospect of losing elections.
He asked the law enforcement agencies to remain alert to prevent any chaos both before and after the polls.
The CEC sought all-out cooperation from the law enforcement agencies in holding free and fair elections.
Later, the CEC told reporters that the law and order in the four cities did not call for army deployment during the polls.
The CEC said he would deploy BGB in all of the four cities and coast guard in Khulna and Barisal in addition to police and RAB.
He said that the EC would arrange live dialogues between the mayoral aspirants to be broadcast by BTV, Bangladesh Betar and BBC Bangla service.
He said, tentatively the dialogues would be held on the following dates:
–June 4: between Sylhet mayoral candidates
–June 7: Rajshahi candidates
–June 10: Khulna aspirants
–June 12: Barisal aspirants

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