In 2021, it was all about the Awami League and its affiliates locking into violence among themselves over elections, with no scope of confrontation with the BNP that pulled out of all the polls.
A new report released by Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) on political violence in 2021 on Friday laid bare a glaring picture of 932 political conflicts and clashes centring local government polls that left 157 people killed and 10,833 severely injured – 69 of them from the ruling party.
Some 113 people were killed in clashes over union council polls, 13 in clashes over municipal and city corporation elections, and 158 were killed in political conflicts, according to the report revealed at a press conference on the human rights situation in Bangladesh in the auditorium of Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
For example, Sajjadur Rahman Shajib, 25, Ichapur union president of Bangladesh Student League (BSL), who got severely injured in a clash in the second phase union parishad election on 28 November, succumbed to his injuries.
In the clash, another Jubo League leader Masud Alam, 36, sustained bullet injuries and died on 9 December while being treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
Nur Khan Liton, human rights activist and ASK secretary general, said they visited various districts following incidents of election violence and saw that the number of rebel candidates from the ruling party increased in the absence of no other parties in the field, contributing to a rise in intra-party violence.
"Until now, only the ruling party used to attack the opposition. A new culture has evolved – leaders and activists in the ruling party are clashing with one another," he noted at the press conference.
What is more interesting is – there were hardly any clashes between police and Awami League men last year. According to the ASK report, in 18 clashes between police and the BNP and its student front, 803 BNP men were injured, while 96 Awami League men in only three clashes.
When contacted, Dhaka Metropolitan police commissioner Mohammad Shafiqul Islam declined to make any comment in this regard.
Nur Khan Liton said, "It is a common trend that police never go against the ruling party's decisions. Not only in the Awami League rule, you can look back at what other parties had done when they were in power."
Shaheed Uddin Chowdhury Anne, publicity secretary of BNP, told The Business Standard that they are being harassed and tortured only for political reasons.
Supreme Court Lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua told TBS that such an attitude of police towards opposition leaders and activists reflects deterioration of human rights last year.
Ishrat Hasan, a Supreme Court lawyer, told TBS that ruling party leaders and workers mostly do not oppose any decisions or steps of the government but the opposition parties do. So, BNP-police clashes are a common phenomenon.
"If anyone gets hurt or injured or even dies, they can seek proper compensation from the court," she added.
According to ASK, 31 people were killed and 1,859 injured in 156 incidents of political violence in 2020. Among the dead, 20 belonged to the Awami League, one from the BNP and 10 people with no political affiliations.
The previous year, 39 people were killed and 2,689 injured in political conflicts in 209 incidents, while in 2018, the number of such incidents was 701 that killed 67 and injured 7,287.
In recent years, the highest number of casualties in political conflicts had been in 2016, leaving 177 people dead and 11,462 injured in 907 incidents. Some 153 people were killed in 2015 and 147 in 2014 because of such violence.
48 women killed after rape in 2021
ASK Senior Coordinator Abu Ahmed Faizul Kabir said 48 women were killed after rape and nine women committed suicide after being raped in 2021.
According to ASK's data protection unit statistics from media reports, 128 women were victims of sexual harassment .
Besides, eight people, including three women and five men, were killed while protesting against sexual harassment.
Throughout the year, 640 women have been victims of domestic violence. Of them, 372 died as a result of the violence
On the other hand, 210 women were tortured for dowry in 2021 and 72 of them were killed after being physically abused.
The ASK report also stated 80 people were victims of extrajudicial killings in one year.