Rangpur City Corporation (RpCC) is set to go to polls for the second time ever on Thursday amid a four-tier security deployment set up by over 5,500 security personnel from different law enforcement agencies.
The success or failure of the KM Nurul Huda-led Election Commission is riding on this election since the RpCC polls is its second major election and a crucial test for the commission ahead of the next general elections in 2018.
Security measures have been ramped up to ensure that voters face no hassle while casting their ballots at the polling centres, and return home safely, according to elections and law enforcement agency officials.
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From left, Sarfuddin Ahmed of Awami League, and Kawsar Jahan Babla of BNP and Md Mostafizur Rahman of Jatiya Party--the three front-line contenders of mayoral race at the Rangpur City Corporation polls, slated to be held Thursday, December 21, 2017 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Claiming that the situation is fully under control of the Election Commission, Nurul Huda on Wednesday expressed hope that the election will be held in a credible manner, reports UNB.
"We hope it'll be possible to arrange the election in a fair and credible manner. The situation is in favour of us," the CEC told a press conference at the city's Nirbachan Bhaban.
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He said the Election Commission (EC) has already taken all the necessary preparations for the election.
Nurul Huda said closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be installed in three polling stations to monitor the election.
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A law enforcement personnel is seen carrying a bunch of ballot boxes to be used for Rangpur City Corporation polls on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam also said they have taken all the measures to make Rangpur City Corporation polls 'a model election' and will try to arrange next city corporation elections in Gazipur, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet in the same manner.
Rafiqul Islam said the EC will have two monitoring cells - one in Rangpur and another in the EC Secretariat-to watch the election continuously.
The Commission has sent its own observer team, numbering 22 officials, to monitor the polls, he added.
Alongside over 5,500 law enforcers, 11 judicial magistrates and 33 executive magistrates will be in the election area to check any possible breach of the election code of conduct and election violence, the Commissioner said.
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Ballot boxes to be used for Rangpur City Corporation polls are seen stocked in a room, being used by Election Commission on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Chopper for patrol, bomb disposal units
In Rangpur, during the distribution of election material to police and Ansar members at the Rangpur Polie Line ground, the election’s Returning Officer Subhash Chandra Sarker said people at home and abroad are eagerly waiting to witness the outcome of the polls.
“We are ready to make any sacrifice to make sure the polls remain neutral, free and fare. No matter how influential a person or organization might be, no leniency will be shown,” said the returning officer.
Speaking at the program, Rangpur Deputy Commissioner Wahiduzzaman also echoed the returning officer, saying: “We are ready to make any sacrifice to ensure a free and fair election.”
The deputy commissioner also cautioned the law enforcement personnel to remain alert against any controversy.
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“Your actions are being watched by several hundreds of television cameras and journalists. Be aware against anything that can create controversy.”
Addressing the police and Ansar members, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Khandker Golam Faruk, instructed his forces to discharge their duties without any fear.
The DIG also mentioned that Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) personnel would patrol the city using helicopters.
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Members of different law enforcement agencies, in charge of maintaining law and order during balloting at Rangpur City Corporation polls, are seen standing in queues based on their areas during a briefing period at Rangpur Police Lines grounds on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Bomb disposal units and dog squads of RAB would also patrol the polling areas as a precaution against any untoward situation.
The DIG also informed that 24 police and Ansar personnel, including 14 armed personnel, would be deployed to each of the polling centres during the voting.
For every two polling centres, a patrol unit comprising members of police, Border Guard Bangladesh and RAB, will be deployed.
Rangpur City Corporation currently has 393,994 voters. There will be around 193 voting centres around the city with 1,122 polling booths.
Seven contenders are vying for the mayor post in the RpCC polls while 211 aspirants are contesting for the general councillor posts in 33 wards and 65 women candidates for 11 reserved seat councillor posts.
In the mayoral race, there will be a triangular fight among Sarfuddin Ahmed of Awami League, Md Mostafizur Rahman of Jatiya Party and Kawsar Jahan Babla of BNP, locals said.