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Polling Officials: Police gathering personal info

15 Nov,2018

BDchronicle :

Police are gathering a host of personal information, including political leanings, about probable polling officials in many districts, causing concern among them.

Many of the prospective polling officials, mostly school and college teachers said they worked as presiding officer, assistant presiding officer and polling officer in past elections without having to go through such verification.

Dozens of teachers in Narayanganj, Pabna, Dinajpur, Satkhira and Kushtia talked to Bdchronicle recently about their concerns.

The information being gathered by police includes the names of possible polling officers and their family members and political affiliations of all members of the families.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday said his party raised the issue at a meeting with the Election Commission. The commission, in reply, said police were checking whether any of the possible officers were accused in criminal cases.

Earlier in July, a government initiative to collect personal information about Upazila Nirbahi Officers caused anger and frustration in the local administration.

Police collected information about the UNOs and their family members' political affiliations. Police also gathered information about which party they were affiliated with when they were students.

Babli Begum, assistant teacher of Sher-e-Bangla Government Primary School on DN Road of Narayanganj, said a policeman from Narayanganj Sadar Police Station recently met her and collected detailed information about her colleagues.

The officer also wanted to know about the political leanings of some teachers, she said.
When she asked the policeman why he needed the information, he told her that it was for the election.
Nizam Uddin, headmaster of the school, said in the 24 years he had been in the job, he worked in many elections, but had never seen police collect information about all teachers.

Khaleda Parveen, assistant teacher of Chashara Government Primary School, said police officers had asked her whether any of her colleagues were involved in politics.

Kamrul Islam, officer-in-charge of Narayanganj Sadar Police Station, said higher authorities had sent them a list of officials about whom they were collecting information. He refused to make further comments.

A college teacher in Satkhira's Debhata upazila said, Some plainclothes men, claiming to be detectives, recently asked a support staffer about personal details of some of our colleagues and me.

What they emphasised was whether I was involved with any political party or supported anyone.

Bdchronicle talked to 10 teachers of several schools and colleges in Pabna's Faridpur, Ishwardi and Sujanagar upazilas. Six of them said they had faced similar situations.

Abdul Bari, assistant professor of Faridpur Degree College, said, A police officer called on my cell phone in the third week of October and asked about my political leaning.

Waheduzzaman, headmaster of Niogir Bongram Government Primary School in Sujanagar, said a police officer met him recently and asked him about the political leaning of other teachers.

Motiur Rahman, headmaster of a primary school in Ishwardi, said a police officer had called him asked him similar questions about some of his colleagues.

A detective branch officer in the district, seeking anonymity, said police were collecting information about probable presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and polling officers.

Rafiqul Islam, superintendent of police in Pabna, however, claimed that police had not been doing any such thing.

In Dinajpur, 10 government employees said police were collecting information of potential presiding officers in 13 upazilas of the district.

Our correspondents in Narayanganj, Pabna and Dinajpur contributed to this report.

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