A woman is seen casting her vote at Karankathi High School and College polling centre in Barisal Sadar during the second-phase of upazila election Thursday. Photo: Star
Counting of votes in the second phase upazila election started shortly after the voting ended at 4:00pm today.
In the second phase, election was held at 114 upazilas of the country amid some stray incidents of violence including clash, suspension of voting, allegation of vote rigging, fake vote casting, suspension of polling officer and attack on voters and police.
The stray incidents were reported from Chittagong, Sylhet, Barisal, Noakhali, Magura, Meherpur, Gopalganj, Kushtia and Chandpur.
Meanwhile, voting in Noakhali Sadar upazila and 21 other polling centres across the country was suspended as situation in those centres went out of control, said Sirajul Islam, acting secretary to the Election Commission (EC) during a briefing at the EC secretariat around 3:30pm.
He also termed the voting as fair and festive.
On the other hand, voting was suspended at 12 centres in Chandpur, Chittagong, Sylhet, Bagerhat and Savar, on the outskirts of the capital.
At least five voters were injured, one critically, when miscreants hurled crude bombs on their way to a polling centre in Gangni upazila of Meherpur.
In the meantime, a policeman was injured as voters attack the law enforcers while they were trying to resist them from entering a voting centre en masse.
On the other hand, BNP city unit of Barisal boycotted the polls and called a dawn-to-dusk hartal for Sunday in Barisal city and Sadar upazila protesting what it termed as vote rigging by ruling party men.
In another development, a firearm of police went missing from a polling centre in Shalikha upazila of Magura when the law enforcers fell asleep early today.
In the meantime, at least 10 people including two members of law enforcing agencies were injured as the supporters of Awami League-and BNP-backed candidates clashed in Gangni upazila of Meherpur.
Beginning at 8:00am, the voting continued for eight hours without any break amid enthusiastic participation of voters.
In the morning, people turned out in numbers in polling centres during the second-phase of upazila election.
More than 1.94 crore voters of 114 upazilas in 52 districts are exercising their voting rights during the second phase of the upazila elections.
A total of 500 aspirants are contesting for chairmen, 506 for vice chairmen, and 334 for vice chairwomen in 115 upazilas.
After securing a comfortable position in the first-phase upazila polls held on February 19, the BNP is expecting to ride the winning wave in the second-phase also.
The government has announced today as public holiday in the polling areas.
Presence of voters at the poll centres was thin in the morning but people started rushing to the polling booths from around 9:00am.
Alongside regular security forcers, the army has been deployed in the upazilas to maintain law and order.
Supporters of BNP and Awami League-backed Liberal Democratic Party exchanged fires at Pantisha Government Primary School polling centre.
Voting in the centre remained suspended for two hours from 8:30am following incident, reports our Chittagong correspondent quoting Mohammad Ali Jinnah, presiding officer of the centre.
Vote resumed after army personnel rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
Meanwhile, the activists of BNP and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) clashed at Dholibila Government Primary School polling centre.
The clash erupted when the supporters of LDP-backed candidate Ziaul Haque Chowdhury confined presiding officer Morshed Ali at his room for half an hour from 12:30pm and snatched 350 to 400 ballot papers, said Ali.
Voting in the centre remained suspended for nearly two hours from around noon following the clash, he added.
Three people including two polling officers were injured during the clash.
Voting at Matlab Degree College Polling Centre in Matlab South upazila suspended for one and a half hours since 9:30am following vote rigging by the supporters of AL-backed candidate, witnesses and BNP-supported candidates alleged.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer Shafiqur Rahman said they suspended the polling centre temporarily due to some untoward incidents.
Election officials suspended the voting at Char Mukundi Govt Primary School and Baishpur Govt Primary School polling centres in the same upazila respectively for over an hour till 10:30am, reports our Chandpur corresponded.
Many voters alleged that the voting was suspended due to rigging by ruling men.
The polling officials also temporarily suspended two more voting centres in the upazila, locals said.
In Matlab north upazila, election officials suspended Nayergari Govt Primary School polling centre from 12:00pm after ruling party men rigged votes there, locals said.
UNO Shafiqur Rahman said they sent army personnel there to look into the incident.
The polling centre was remained suspended till 1:42pm when the report was filed.
BNP-backed chairman candidate in the upazila claimed that the AL supporters have driven out their agents from 85 polling centres in the upazila.
Voting at Khoshrupur Govt Primary School in Balaganj upazila remained suspended for one hour from 1:00pm when supporters of AL-backed candidate Mostakur Rahman forcefully tried to stamp ballot papers.
Presiding officer Nishendra Podder suspended voting for one hour from around 12noon, reports our Sylhet correspondent quoting the officer.
BNP-backed candidate Md Afzal Mia claimed that AL activists rigged votes at over 20 polling centres in the upazila.
At least six people including two BGB members were injured in a clash between locals and law enforcers at Fakirhat upazila of Bagerhat resulting suspension of polls in the centre.
The clash ensued when the AL supporters along with locals attacked Shatsika Government Primary School polling centre and set fire to two ballot boxes there around 11:00am, said Md Shukur Ali, deputy commissioner (DC) of Bagerhat.
The situation aggravated when the law enforces led by Magistrate Ariful Islam tried to disperse a crowd near to the polling centre.
The BGB members fired 10 rounds of blank fired to control the situation.
On the other hand, the AL activists blasted at least five crude bombs, reports our Bagerhat correspondent.
The party men and locals stormed into the polling centre after BGB troops detained four people from the spot.
Later, they were freed and undergoing treatment at Fakirhat Upazila Health Complex.
A clash between AL men and BNP supporters ensued around 12:00pm following an altercation when the supporters of BNP-blessed candidate tried to convince a voter in their favour, said Masudul Alam, officer-in-charge of Gangni Police Station.
Police constable Robiul Islam and Ansar Battalion member Manjarul sustained injuries when they tried to settle the matter.
Eight more people of both the camps were also injured in the incident.
Election officials suspended the voting at Onirban School polling centre at Genda area of Savar, on the outskirt of the capital, after ruling men rigged vote there around 2:30pm, locals said.
Assistant Returning Officer Nazim Uddin confirmed the incident when our Savar correspondent contacted him.