Violence Erupts as Bangladesh Braces for Controversial Election – South Asia Time

Violence Erupts as Bangladesh Braces for Controversial Election

 January 6, 2024  

Dhaka — In a surge of pre-election turmoil, 14 polling stations ablaze, commuter train attack kills four, and opposition boycott intensifies.

Amid escalating tensions on the eve of Bangladesh’s national polls, at least 14 polling stations, including one near the capital Dhaka, have been set on fire. The violence unfolds alongside an alleged arson attack on a busy commuter train, claiming the lives of four passengers.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, seeking a fourth consecutive term, faces a wave of opposition boycotts, with most parties opting out of the electoral process. Prominent opposition figure Nabiullah Nabi and six party activists are arrested in connection with the train fire, according to police reports.

Hospital sources reveal eight people critically injured, while reports surface of a torched Buddhist temple in Chittagong and an attacked ruling Awami League party office. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) declares a nationwide two-day strike, urging voters to boycott the election.

Accusations fly between political rivals, as the Awami League accuses the BNP of instigating a “reign of terror,” while the BNP alleges the ruling party’s attempts to disrupt the election. The United Nations Special Rapporteur expresses deep concern over the repressive environment surrounding the polls.

As the nation grapples with violence, Sunday’s voting unfolds in a polarized political landscape, marked by the rivalry between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, currently under house arrest. The opposition demands a neutral caretaker government, but Hasina’s administration insists on the constitution’s provisions.

The upcoming election is poised to be a critical moment in Bangladesh’s political history, overshadowed by unrest and a divisive electoral atmosphere