Violence marred the fifth phase municipal polls in 29 municipalities Sunday as a youth died in election clashes in the country's northern region Saidpur.
Supporters of mayoral and councillor candidates locked into clashes in several areas, including Rajshahi's Charghat, Brahmanbaria and Jhenaidah's Kaliganj. Besides, some municipalities witnessed bomb explosions, occupation of polling centres and chase and counter-chase.
A number of mayor and councillor candidates – mostly BNP-backed – boycotted the elections after raising allegations of rigging and other irregularities like in the previous four phases.
Following the boycott, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said his party would not participate in the upcoming union parishad election slated for 11 April.
After the voting, Election Commission (EC) Secretary Humayun Kabir Khandaker on Sunday afternoon said it is not their concern if anyone rejects the elections.
About the death due to poll violence in Saidpur, the secretary said, "We are sorry for that."
The deceased in Saidpur poll violence was identified as Chhotan Adhikari. He was killed in a clash between supporters of two councillor candidates outside a polling station in Munshipara ward.
"He did not die in police firing. The body also does not bear any bruises. The autopsy will clarify the cause of death," he said.
Humayun Kabir said the overall voting was in a fair and festive atmosphere.
12 injured in poll violence
Apart from the death, Saidpur election violence left five individuals injured.
In the south-western district of Jhenaidah's Kaliganj municipality, four people were injured in a chase between two groups. Another clash in the same municipality left three people injured.
In Brahmanbaria and Rajshahi's Charghat municipalities, there were multiple crude bomb explosions. However, no casualties were reported in those blasts.
At least five mayoral candidates boycott polls
In Jhenaidah's Maheshpur municipality, BNP mayor candidate Amirul Islam boycotted the polls after raising various allegations, including electoral fraud.
In Nilphamari municipality, Jatiya Party mayor candidate Siddiqul Alam boycotted the polls alleging voting irregularities, assault on his polling agents and biased role of the administration. He also demanded re-election.
BNP mayor candidate in Rajshahi's Charghat municipality Zakirul Islam, BNP mayor candidate in Joypurhat Shamsul Haque and BNP mayor candidate in Laxmipur's Raipur municipality ABM Jilani also boycotted the polls.
Regarding the boycott, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they took part in the local government elections as they believed in democracy. But recent polls proved the current EC is not capable of holding any free and fair election.
"Their [EC] main duty is to cater for the government," commented Mirza Fakhrul.
A total of 1,712 candidates vied in the municipality elections. Of them, 100 candidates contested for mayoral office, 1,270 for councillor posts and 342 for reserved seats.
In the sixth phase municipality polls on 11 April, nine cities will go for elections.