Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ghosts of past return

Ruling party interference, clash, voter intimidation, ballot box hijack mar upazila polls
Staff Correspondent

A polling agent at the Char Boro Dhopli government primary school polling centre in Companiganj, Noakhali is seen trying to manipulate a voter into casting her vote for a particular candidate. Photo: Focus Bangla
A polling agent at the Char Boro Dhopli government primary school polling centre in Companiganj, Noakhali is seen trying to manipulate a voter into casting her vote for a particular candidate. Photo: Focus Bangla

More than 100 people including policemen were injured across the country during clashes between supporters of rival candidates of upazila polls yesterday.
Clashes, ruling party activists influencing polling, snatching of ballot boxes and ballot papers, preventing voters from going to the polling centres, forcing voters to vote openly and a very low turnout scarred the long awaited election day, according to our correspondents.
Executive judicial magistrates across the country in instant judgments sentenced at least nine people to different terms of imprisonment for violating electoral and other laws. More than 30 people were also arrested for their involvement in criminal activities related to the election.
Elections to five upazilas parishads were postponed following allegations of intimidation, deterioration of law and order situation, irregularities and preventing people to cast their votes.
Following allegations of vote rigging, locals torched ballot boxes and sacks full of ballot papers in Madarganj upazila of Jamalpur last evening.
Twenty people were hurt during clashes between supporters of rival candidates of Ukhia upazila in Cox’s Bazar. Officer-in-charge of Ukhia Police Station filed a case accusing 500 unknown people.
In Teknaf upazila Awami League (AL) lawmaker Abdur Rahman allegedly assaulted three polling officials, presiding officer and two assistant presiding officers, in two polling centres.
An allegation was raised against Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdul Latif Biswas for working in favour of Awami League (AL) adherent candidate in Belkuchi upazila and AL supporters allegedly forced voters to cast their votes openly and tried to capture polling centres. The AL supporters also vandalised a vehicle of the United Nations.
Chairman candidate of Faridpur Sadar upazila Imran Hossain Chowdhury, 63, a Jatiya Party leader and former upazila parishad chairman, died of heart attack yesterday.
An executive judicial magistrate in an instant judgment sentenced a Jamaat supporter to two years’ rigorous imprisonment for casting fake votes for Jamaat adherent candidate Maulana Tamij Uddin Ahmed in Islampur Govt Primary School polling centre in Khulna.
In Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj, police arrested an assistant presiding officer and two polling officers when they were casting votes for AL adherent chairman candidate Shah Jalal. The arrestees are assistant presiding officer Azufa Akter and poling officers Iqbal Hossain and Abdul Mannan. Police recovered 90 ballot papers from their possession.
Locals chased two AL activists–Sayeed and Mamun–as they were trying to get away with ballot boxes. They managed to flee leaving the ballot boxes behind. The AL men attacked a polling centre and left Assistant Presiding Officer Harunur Rashid injured.
Reports of ballot box hijacking and assaulting assistant presiding officers also came from Munshiganj.
Three people including an assistant presiding officer were arrested at Enaetpur Govt Primary School centre in Naogaon’s Raninagar upazila in connection with violating the electoral code of conduct and threatening the presiding officer. The other two arrestees are polling agent of BNP adherent chairman candidate SM Al Faruk James.
Eight followers of AL lawmaker Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara in Puthia, Rajshahi, were arrested for taking over three polling booths in Hatinada Non-Government Primary School polling centre.
A chairman and three vice-chairmen candidates in Noakhali said they have “withdrawn” from the race alleging beating up of their polling agents. They are four-party backed chairman candidate of Companyganj Fakhrul Islam, vice-chairman candidate Jahir Uddin and female vice-chairman candidate Taslima Toha Lipi.
Voting was suspended in two polling centres following hijacking of ballot papers in Noakhali. At least 50 people were injured in clashes between the supporters of rival candidates in different polling centres there.
Police arrested eight people in connection with intimidating voters and other criminal activities around polling centres in the district.
At least 20 people were injured in Kushtia’s Daulatpur upazila when supporters of two pro-AL chairman candidates and two pro-AL vice-chairman candidates clashed with each other in two separate incidents. Police arrested 10 people at Daulatpur and Kumarkhali while they were casting votes openly for AL adherent chairman candidates.
In Bogra, Presiding Officer of Nishindara Fakir Uddin School and College polling centre Rajat Kumar Das and Assistant Presiding Officer Harun-or-Rashid were suspended for working in favour of AL adherent chairman candidate in the Sadar upazila. Presiding Officer of Manikchar Primary School polling centre Zulfikar Ali and Assistant Presiding Officer Golam Hossain were also suspended for working in favour of Jamaat adherent candidate Bazlur Rahman.
Two polling agents and two law enforcers were injured in a clash between supporters of two pro-AL candidates in Bera upazila of Pabna.
Supporters of chairman candidate Azizul Huq Arju vandalised the car of rival candidate Afzal Hossain. They also attacked police leaving Bera police chief and a sub-inspector injured. Army and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) later arrested two polling agents of Azizul Huq.
A mobile court yesterday sentenced five supporters of AL-backed chairman candidate Shahin Ahmed of Keraniganj upazila to three years’ imprisonment for trying to take away 29 ballot papers at New Baker Char Primary School polling centre, UNB reports. They were also fined Tk 4,000 each.
Nilphamari municipality panel Chairman Shamsul Islam was arrested for violating the electoral rules.
At least seven people were injured when supporters of two chairman candidates locked in clashes in Hanirpur–West Chargazipur and Nauri polling centres of Matlab (north) upazila under Chandpur district. Voting was suspended at a polling centre in Faridganj after criminals cast 200 fake votes.
In Barisal, police fired six bullets when supporters of an AL adherent candidate were trying to take over Pashchim Ratanpur Government Primary School polling centre in Mehendiganj.
A polling agent of candidate Monirul Islam Chhobi was suspended from the Kornokathi Gauche Rahmania High School polling centre in Barisal for inspiring voters to cast their votes for his candidate, Presiding Officer Mosharaf Hossain said.
Polling at three centres of Nandail upazila in Mymensingh district were postponed following incidents of ballot box snatching.
Five ballot boxes were snatched, two each from Sherpur Uttar Govt Primary School and Ahmedabad Govt Primary School polling centres and one from Imam Hossain High School centre, said Assistant Returning Officer, also upazila nirbahi officer of Nandail, Hawlader Rakibul Bari.
Police arrested Abdul Mannan alias Mannaf in connection with the snatching. The boxes could not be recovered as of filing of this report at 10:00pm.
An executive judicial magistrate sentenced a man to six months imprisonment for influencing voters in Gaibandha.
Police arrested Sardar Murshid for voting in an open area at Rampal upazila in Bagerhat. When asked, Murshid told reporters that he was forced to cast his vote openly by one of the candidates in the race.
UNB reports: One person was arrested in possession of a fire arms and voting at a polling centre was suspended in Gazaria upazila in Munshiganj.
BNP adherent chairman candidate of Pangsha upazila in Rajbari Ashraful Islam Miah alleged that supporters of his rival AL adherent candidate Hasan Ali Biswas captured around 40 polling centres in eight unions. He demanded postponement of the polls in that upazila.
Police also held a person with Tk 35,000 in connection with trying to buy votes in Khayerpur union under Phulbari upazila of Dinajpur.
An executive judicial magistrate sentenced two people to six months’ imprisonment in Patuakhali for threatening voters at a polling centre. The magistrate also fined them Tk 1,000 each.


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