A man rummages through ballot papers and box thrown out of a polling station in Comilla's Brahmanpara during an attack by AL supporters yesterday. Photo: Star
There was no queue of voters outside Ashek Ali Khan High School centre in Kachua upazila of Chandpur since the polling began at 8:00am.
But surprisingly, 700 votes were cast in the first two hours, meaning that six ballots were cast every minute at the centre in front of the house of Awami League lawmaker and former home minister MK Alamgir.
Some 20 to 30 youths were seen coming out of the booths on the first floor of the school building. They again entered the booths to cast fake votes.
No polling agents except for the one of AL-backed chairman candidate Shahjahan Shishir was present at the centre.
Chandpur-1 lawmaker MK Alamgir, who cast his vote at the centre around 10:00am, refused to talk to reporters.
Presiding Officer Golam Maula Majumder told our correspondent that it was the candidates' responsibility to provide agents, while the polling officers' job was to ensure security of the agents.
Asked, he said it was difficult to say whether any fake votes were cast at the centre, as it is the polling agents who identify the voters.
People identified as supporters of an AL-backed candidate engage in ballot-box stuffing at a polling station in Chandpur's Kachua. Photo: Star
The picture was almost the same in five polling centres of Nangalkot and Chouddagram upazilas in Comilla.
Voters' presence was thin at Makrabpur Government Primary School centre at Nangalkot upazila in Comilla. But as many as 1,400 votes were cast in the first one hour, meaning that 23 votes were cast every minute.
There was no polling agent or supporter of BNP-backed candidates as the ruling party men had driven all BNP supporters out of the centre.
The polling centre in the constituency of Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has 3,042 voters.
The situation was similar at Shihor Jameria Rahmania Madrasa, Chiyara Government Primary School and Batupara Government Primary School centres in the upazila.
By 12:00noon, a total of 900 ballots were cast at Shihor Madrasa centre that has 1,511 voters.
Of 2,221 votes, 1,200 were cast at Chiyara school by 1.00pm, and of 2,223 votes, 1,800 were cast at Batupara school by 1:00pm.
Surprisingly, local BNP leaders were also found casting fake votes in AR High School and Model Primary School centre in the same upazila.
Asked, upazila Jubo Dal President Anwar Hossain said they took 500 ballots from ruling AL men on request.
"Ruling party men were casting fake votes and we thought that there was no use resisting them. So, we requested them to give us 500 ballots," he added.
In Chouddagram upazila of Comilla, 2,300 ballots were cast by 12:00noon at Sangissor School Centre that has 3,703 voters.
As reporters entered the polling centre, some youths and children hurriedly left the booths and stood in a queue outside.
When contacted, election commissioners Abdul Mobarak and Shah Nawaz said there was no incident of vote rigging yesterday.
The casting of fake votes reminds one of ex-AL lawmaker Sheikh Afil Uddin's instructions to the party men for casting votes again and again.
He was caught on tape giving the instructions in the run-up to the January 5 national elections.
"One hundred boys will always be in the queue. One will go inside the booth and then stand at the end of the line again. He will not go home. One hundred boys will always be in the line. One will enter the booth and then stand again behind the ninety-nine. The next one will go and stand in the queue again," he said.
Afil, who won Jessore-1 uncontested, gave the directives to the party men to ensure a win for his relative Monirul Islam contesting from Jessore- 2.
Monirul won the January 5 polls.
But the Election Commission took action against the duo, and their election results were not published in gazette. The matter is yet to be settled.