Bangladesh poll: 'I have never felt this scared'
- 5 January 2014
- From the section Asia
There have been violent clashes between opposition activists and police during Bangladesh's general election, amid a boycott by the opposition.
Scores of polling stations have been torched and voting, scheduled to have ended at 10:00GMT, was said to be thin.
People registered to vote in the elections have been telling BBC News about the atmosphere in Bangladesh.
"I'm a 22-year-old student in Dhaka.
For the past six weeks, my university has been closed. I'm supposed to graduate in 18 months but that will have to be delayed now.
I left my house yesterday and a crowd had gathered in the square, it felt quite scary but in general it's OK.
The military are on the streets now and that makes me feel safer.
Bangladesh isn't a particularly stable country, I have grown up with all this.
But poorer people are in danger now. For example, there are fewer people travelling around so the rickshaw drivers are losing their livelihoods.
Because of the instability, my parents want me to emigrate when I finish my education. But, I want to stay and help Bangladesh.
Some people think that one person can make a big difference but I believe that lots of people, making smaller changes, can also make a huge difference. That's why I want to stay.
Our youth, our economy and above all our future is being compromised because of all this unrest.
Some say that it is always darkest just before the dawn but sometimes I feel like I am living in the Arctic and the dawn is an eternity away."
"I, and many others like myself, do not care about the elections any more.
What we care about most right now is the security of our lives.
So many people have been killed due to political violence in the last three months, many of them torched alive inside buses. What sort of people are we? Do we qualify to be called human any more?
I am a student and I have to use buses to get around as it's the cheapest form of travel. Each time I get on a bus in my city, it is an ordeal and I spend every second of the journey worried that a petrol bomb will be hurled at the bus.
We are incredibly frightened, we can't live like this any more.
I was born in Dhaka and I have never felt this scared in my life.
I want the situation to get better because when I finish my studies, I want to work in Bangladesh, I want to be a part of its future.
Right now, putting an end to the killing of innocent civilians is what we plead for, to all the politicians and political parties of Bangladesh. They do not own our lives. It's time they realised that."
"It is absolutely deadly here in Sylhet.
In the last few days wherever I went and the word election was mentioned, people got afraid.
They even avoided making a comment when I asked if they would cast their vote. Those who did answer me said there was no way they would vote.
In my local voting centre in the last five-and-a-half hours, only three votes were cast.
I went there but have not voted and do not intend to.
Me, my family, and everyone I know are not voting.
It is as a protest against Hasina's regime but we are not in support of the opposition either.
Most people here in Bangladesh have no idea what will happen after today. But one thing we are sure of is that it will get worse.
This chaos can only be avoided if the army or the international community take action and that is not likely, so we have brace ourselves for more chaos on the streets."
"I have become a voter for the first time in my life.
I used to go to polling stations in elections during my childhood with my mother.
Back then, an election was a celebration. All the contestants would join in colourful processions and would go door-to-door distributing pamphlets. For the kids it was like a festival.
But, today what is happening in Bangladesh is more than a horror.
All of the streets are empty and there are only law enforcers around.
Signs of uncertainty are visible on people's faces.
Police are raiding the whole town and detaining people they find suspicious.
Over the last two weeks, I haven't lived in my home for six nights because I'm scared.
Most of the people are extremely dissatisfied.
I think around 60% of voters will not be able to cast their vote due to the boycott by main opposition, but everyone is too scared to do anything about it."
"I voted in the first hour of the election.
I saw no violence, no threat and no harassment.
I participated in this poll because we need to continue our constitutional practice.
If we fail to do this then we will have a repeat of the 2007 election when the military intervened.
That will destroy our country's economic and political prosperity.
In the past few months, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been very destructive.
Our current prime minister should take immediate action after election and put the country on a red alert for at least three months.
After that she must negotiate with the major political parties in Bangladesh and arrange a new election where all the political parties in Bangladesh are represented."