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Election violence, minorities, and erasure of data

February 8, 2024

DHAKA – The life of Barun Kumar Ghosh, a supporter of Awami League, met a tragic end on January 9 near his residence in Hamdo Ghoshpara, Jhenaidah. The assailants attacked the 35-year-old, dragging him outside a local shop, where they amputated one of his legs. Despite being rushed to Jhenaidah Sadar Hospital by locals, doctors pronounced him dead. Barun was identified as a supporter of Tahjeeb Alam Siddiqui, the official AL nominee for the Jhenaidah-2 parliamentary seat. Barun’s killing has been cited in discussions on electoral violence against minorities.

Reports of violence against minorities during and after the boycott-ridden, controversial election have raised questions against Awami League’s claimed commitment to protecting the minorities. At a seminar organised by Arpita Sampatti Pratyarpan Ain Bastobayon Jatiyo Nagorik Samonway Cell on February 2, it was said that at least 13 incidents of torture and attacks on minorities—all election-centric—occurred between January 4 and 13, leaving one person dead and 37 injured. An earlier report by Human Rights Support Society (HRSS) said that there were election-focused attacks on minorities in 12 districts.

Persistent assertions by ministers and leaders of the ruling party, that there were no major violations of electoral norms, to counter independent analysts’ and observers’ evaluation that the election was essentially a staged affair raises suspicions about the motive of the home ministry’s wholesale deletion of complaints. Before the timeframe of any potential legal challenges of election results was over, how could the government make all the allegations of violations traceless?

The scale and spread of electoral violence against members of minority