UP polls: Voting ends amid sporadic incidents


Voting in 614 union parishads of 48 districts across the country ended amid scattered incidents on Saturday.
The balloting in the third phase of the election to the lowest tier of the local government body began at 8:00am and continued till 4:00pm without any break.
In Jamalpur, 10 people were injured in a clash between the supporters of two union parishad member candidates over taking control of a polling centre in Islampur upazila, United News of Bangladesh reports.
Yunus Ali Mia, assistant superintendent of police, said the followers of two member candidates — Mofazzel Hossain and Shahjahan Munshi — of Gaibandha union locked in an altercation over taking control of the Porarchar Government Primary School polling centre around 10:00am.
At one stage, both the groups swooped on each other leaving 10 people injured. Police fired six to seven rounds of bullet to disperse them.
However, voting in other unions of the upazila was going on peacefully.
In Brahmanbaria, three journalists —Pijush Kanti Acharya,  bureau chief of ATN Bangla, its cameraman Sumon Roy, and My TV’s cameraman Jabed—were injured in an attack allegedly by the supporters of the Awami League-backed chairman candidate while covering vote rigging at the Chunta AC Academy polling centre in Sarail upazila.
Witnesses said the supporters of AL-backed chairman candidate Shahjahan Mia stormed the polling centre and started stamping ballot papers.
At one stage, they swooped on the journalists on duty as they moved to cover vote rigging, leaving them injured. They were rushed to Sarail upazila health complex.
Voting in the centre was kept suspended from 9:15am to 10:15am following the incident, said upazila election officer Shaheen Akand.
Besides, a BNP-backed chairman candidate boycotted the polls in Sarail upazila bringing allegation of different irregularities committed by the ruling Awami League men.

Activists of Awami Juba League stuffing ballots at Ichhapura centre in Ramganj of Lakshmipur on Saturday.--New Age photo

Activists of Awami Juba League stuffing ballots at Ichhapura centre in Ramganj of Lakshmipur on Saturday.–New Age photo

In Lakshmipur, voting in a polling centre at Sonapur Government Primary School in Raipur upazila was suspended on allegation of capturing the centre during election.
Raipur upazila nirbahi officer Sharmin gave the suspension order around 10:45am as miscreants tried to take control of the polling station in Sonapur union.
The pro-Bangladesh Nationalist Party candidates said their agents were driven out from a number of polling centres, an allegation that the Awami League-backed candidates rejected.
Earlier, in the morning, mobile courts arrested a member candidate for creating chaos at Sonapur Government Primary School polling centre and a person for casting fake vote in another centre of the union.
In Chandpur, voting in four polling centres in Faridganj upazila was suspended on allegation of capturing the centres and stamping ballot papers forcibly during the elections.
Nurul Amin, a presiding officer of Sreekalia polling centre, said miscreants broke into three polling stations under no 5 Gupti union and started stamping ballots forcibly, creating chaos.
Later, the authorities suspended voting in the centres, including Sreekalia, Nawab Ali High School and Asta Mahamaya High School centres.
Meanwhile, polling in Saisanga Government Primary School polling centre under no 6 Gupti union was also suspended as a group of miscreants stamped ballot papers forcibly after storming it, said presiding officer Bedar Uddin Khan.

A polling agent of Awami League-backed candidate is stuffing ballots at Panchasartia Government Primary School centre in Sirajganj on Saturday.--New Age photo

A polling agent of Awami League-backed candidate is stuffing ballots at Panchasartia Government Primary School centre in Sirajganj on Saturday.–New Age photo

Nearly 30,000 candidates, including over 2,600 chairman contestants, are in the election race in the 614 UPs that have some 1.10 crore voters in 6,075 polling stations, United News of Bangladesh reports.
Twenty-five chairman candidates, all from ruling Awami League, have already been elected uncontested.
Of the 25 single chairman candidates, five each are in Kushtia and Munshiganj, four in Narayanganj, two each in Shariatpur, Comilla and Lakshmipur, and one each in Jamalpur, Jhenaidah, Rajbari, Noakhali and Khagrachari.
As per the latest statistics provided by the Election Commission, some 1,450 candidates from 13 political parties while around 1,150 independent contenders are contesting the polls.
Though AL has contestants in all the UPs, its archrival Bangladesh Nationalist Party has no chairman candidates in 81 UPs in this phase.
Besides, 156 chairman candidates of HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party are in the election race.
Meanwhile, 20,943 contestants for member posts and 6,298 candidates for reserved seats (exclusively for women) contesting the election.
Of the contestants, 174 member candidates and 79 candidates for reserved seats have already been elected unopposed finding no rivals against their posts.
Five magistrates — four executive ones and a judicial one — remained deployed to punish polling irregularities in each of 87 upazilas.
Alongside the magistrates, additional number of police, RAB, BGB, APBn, Ansar and coast guard remain posted in the election areas to maintain electoral environment.
Over three dozens of people have so far been killed in election-related violence since February 11 last, the day the commission announced the schedule for the first phase of the staggered UP elections.
Ruling AL on Thursday last conveyed its party’s chief prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s views to the EC that she does not want to see any anomaly, fault and deviation in the elections, but there is still doubt about if the EC will be able to check violence and irregularities in this phase.
On March 15, the EC announced the election schedule for the third phase.
In the first two phases of elections held in March last, a total of 87 AL chairman contestants went unopposed, while BNP had no chairman candidates in some 200 UPs out of 1,370.
As part of the EC’s plan to arrange polls to 4,275 UPs out of the country’s total 4,546 in six phases by June next, the commission has so far announced the election schedules for the first five phases.

Source: new age

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