Date: 28 December 2018
News Title: "Awami League, BNP Accusing Each Other of Using Rohingyas for Political Gains Ahead of Polls"
Report by Iftekhar Mahmud: "Cox's Bazar-3 Constituency: Rohingyas in Discussion Ahead of Polls"
The city of Cox’s Bazar, the tourism center of Bangladesh adjacent to the Bay of Bengal, has become almost silent. Most of the 20,000 workers of different local and foreign NGOs, who were helping in dealing with the Rohingya crisis, have left the place. Most of them left the town for the time being. As movements in the Rohingya camps in Teknaf and Ukhia have been restricted for 15 days, it can be said that most of these aid workers are on a sort of vacation. However, Rohingyas have become a topic of discussion in the poll-time politics of Cox’s Bazar, although they are not allowed to come out of the camps.
Cox's Bazar-3 constituency comprises Cox's Bazar Sadar and Ramu Upazila [sub-district]. Teknaf and Ukhia are two upazilas adjacent to the Cox’s Bazar-3 constituency. Bangladesh Awami League [BAL] fielded Saimum Sarwar in the Cox’s Bazar-3 constituency. On the other hand, Lutfur Rahman is set to contest the polls from Cox’s Bazar-3 constituency with BNP's [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] 'sheaf of paddy' symbol. Both the candidates are blaming each other for making plans of using Rohingyas in the upcoming polls. Allegations of using Rohingyas to carry out sabotage, attack the opponents, and take possession of the poll-centers are being discussed in the electoral politics of Cox’s Bazar.
In this regard, BNP’s candidate Rahman told the Daily Prothom Alo, "Most of the people of Cox’s Bazar are in favor of 'sheaf of paddy' [BNP’s electoral symbol]. No one is supporting the 'boat' [BAL’s electoral symbol]. Fearing the certain victory of mine he [Sarwar] is planning to take possession of the poll-centers using Rohingyas."
While asked regarding these allegations, BAL’s candidate Sarwar said, "I can make similar allegations. My opponent may want to use Rohingyas in the polls. However, there is no such scope as the administration has put an embargo on the movement in the Rohingya camps."
The Cox’s Bazar district administration has increased the security in Rohingya camps ahead of the polls. Security posts have been placed at one to two kilometers interval along the road from Cox’s Bazar Sadar to Teknaf-Ukhia. Police, RAB [Rapid Action Battalion], and members of the armed forces have taken positions there. Apart from locals and people with the need for medical help, no one is being allowed to move along with this road. People have to show their national identity card if they have to move along with the road for any kind of emergency.
While asked in this regard, Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner Kamal Hossain told Daily Prothom Alo, "Almost one million Rohingyas live in the camps located in Teknaf and Ukhia. Any quarter may want to provoke such a large number of population. However, we have taken precautionary measures so that no one can take such attempts."
Even after so many precautionary measures, political parties in Cox’s Bazar allege that Rohingyas are gathering in the Cox’s Bazar City and adjacent areas in different ways. They [Rohingyas] have taken positions in hilly areas around the city. Rohingyas have started working as rickshaw pullers, tomtom pullers, CNG auto-rickshaw drivers, or as workers of local hotels.
Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner (Additional Secretary) Mohammad Abul Kalam told the Daily Prothom Alo that there is no scope for Rohingyas to go outside the camp. Particularly, Rohingyas would not be allowed to go outside the refugee camp for three days including the Election Day, and the days before and after the Election Day. Such measures have been taken so that no one can use these Rohingyas during the polls.
The total number of voters in Cox’s Bazar constituency is 414,930. Among them, 256,644 are from the Cox’s Bazar Sadar area and the other 158,286 are form Ramu Upazila. BAL candidate Sarwar is a resident of Ramu. On the other hand, BNP’s candidate Rahman is a resident of Cox’s Bazar Sadar. Although three more candidates are contesting the polls from the constituency, the battle between the boat and the sheaf of paddy will dominate the polls in Cox’s Bazar-3 constituency.
Printed on 21 Jan 2019 | 08:25 am