A handful of Hindus cast their votes in Lalmonirhat and Satkhira yesterday as the majority of the community there either feared attacks by Jamaat-Shibir or were unhappy with the ruling party’s faillure in protecting them.
The two constituencies of Lalmonirhat, where the voting took place spread over the sadar, Hatibandha and Patgram upazilas. Minorities in these areas have recently come under attack by Jamaat-Shibir men.
At Ghoshpara village in Patgram, only 10-12 out of 280 voters exercised their franchise in the 10th national polls.
“The remaining voters did not turn out as they were under threat from Jamaat-Shibir men in the village,” said Rajani Kanto Ghosh, a voter aged 48.
He added he had stayed at home all day in fear of attacks.
Besides, Rajani said, he had no interest in the election because the ruling Awami League had not extended its support to the Hindus even after November 28 and December 15 attacks.
Alleged Jamaat-Shibir activists beat up at least 12 women and children and looted and torched at least five shops and two houses in Ghoshpara village on November 28 during a BNP-led opposition’s countrywide blockade. At least 55 Hindu families fled the area on December 15 following threats and attacks. Sindurmoti village in Lalmonirhat has 4,000 voters, 90 percent of which are Hindus but not a single vote was cast at Sindurmoti Government Primary School polling centre, reported our correspondent.
At Bawra village of Patgram upazila, some 25 Hindus cast their votes whereas the total number of minority voters is 300.
Local community leader Niharanjan Das, 56, told The Daily Star that they had not gone out to vote fearing attacks by opposition men, especially Jamaat-Shibir.
Gopal Chandra Barman, the general secretary of district Puja Udjapan Parishad in Lalmonirhat, claimed that only 4 to 5 percent of the total Hindu voters excercised their franchise.
Similar cases were reported from Satkhira.
At Godaghata Government Primary School in Satkhira’s Shibpur union, not a single voter was seen at 4:00pm, reported our correspondent.
The presiding officer of the polling station said opposition men had blasted cocktails there at dawn. The centre had been patially burnt the day before.
A farmer passing by, Aftab hossain said,”They [Jamaat-Shibir] threatened us with dire consequences if we go and vote. Why get into all the hassles?”
Presiding officer Azizur Rahman of Agordari Kamil Madrassa in the same village said that not a single vote had been cast though he had a list of 1,876 voters.
“How will voters of these areas cast their votes? The Hindus fled because they had been targeted by Jamaat-Shibir men. And those, who belong to Jamaat-Shibir, are on the run from the joint forces,” said Lavlu Rahman of the area.
Meanwhile, two houses of Hindu families in Bagha upazila of Rajshahi were burnt down Saturday night.
An attack on a larger scale was made in Dinajpur on the minority community around 6.00pm yesterday, in which 30 shops, 65 houses, and paddies were torched.