Many voters in the upazila feel that leaders free from drug scandals are needed to build a ‘yaba-free’ Teknaf
Three Awami League nominated candidates with reported involvement in yaba trading are vying for the chairman post in Teknaf upazila.
These heavy weight candidates with significant influence in the region are contesting in the third phase of the Upazila Parishad (UP) elections on Sunday.
Rebel Awami League candidate Jafar Ahmad, former UP chairman and Awami League vice chairman, is on top of the Home Ministry’s list of yaba godfathers.
Meanwhile, Nurul Alam, upazila Jubo League chairman, is on the Home Ministry’s list of people who are aiding and abetting yaba trading and its dealers.
Prof Mohammad Ali, upazila Awami League chairman and former MP, does not have his name on any list, but his two sons Rashed Md Ali and Mahbub Morshed are on the Home Ministry’s list of yaba dealers.
However, all three “yaba godfathers” reject the allegations surrounding the illicit trade and claim that a certain faction is at work to destroy their political carreers.
What voters say
Wishing anonymity, a lot of voters in the upazila said that leaders free of such scandals are necessary to build a “yaba-free” Teknaf.
However, voters are being deprived of clean candidates and are left with having to elect tainted candidates or abstain from voting.
Regardless, voters are looking forward to elect the vice chairman and women reserved vice chairman for their upazila.
How the candidates defended themselves
When asked about the allegations, Prof Mohammad Ali said: "I have not been a party to any scandal in my long political career. I have been siding with anti yaba campaigns for a long time. However, a group of yaba operatives are trying to taint my image and they cited my two sons as yaba dealers. The legal administration is well aware of whether my sons are yaba traders or they are against the yaba trade.”
Similarly, Jafar Ahmed claiming innocence said: “I am not involved in the yaba trade. Naming me on that list is harassment. I am being framed through misinformation provided to the Home Ministry.”
“I don’t have any cases filed against me in this regard and I was elected the chairman last term and I will be elected once again,” he added.
However, when our correspondent called Nurul Alam, he disconnected the call, saying he was busy campaigning.
About the upazila polls on Sunday
Cox’s Bazar Superintendent of Police, ABM Masud Hossain, said: “All preparations to hold the polls in a free, fair, and peaceful atmosphere have been taken.”
“No political factions will be allowed to assert their influence at polling centres during voting,” he added.
“We will work to create a voter friendly atmosphere and provide strict security at polling centres which are marked dangerous. Any sort of discrepancy will be dealt with in a strict manner,” he further added.
Polling will take place from 8am to 4pm without interruption.
The Teknaf upazila consists of six unions and one municipality, having a total of 1,45,808 voters, with 72,657 male and 73,151 female.
Eight other candidates are contesting for the vice chairman post, while three candidates are vying for the reserved women's vice chairman post.
The third phase of elections at 127 Upazila Parishads t 17 districts in five divisions will be held on Sunday.