Huge numbers of fake votes were cast in at least 30 percent polling centres in the Narayangaj-5 by-election on Thursday, said Election Working Group (EWG).
“The by-election was mostly peaceful, but many incidents of casting fake votes have been reported,” mentioned a report by the EWG.
An alliance of 29 civil society platforms, the EWG works for ensuring transparent and accountable electoral process. It unveiled the report yesterday at a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club.
Jatiya Party nominee Selim Osman, brother of controversial Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman, won the by-polls defeating renegade AL leader and independent candidate SM Akram by 16,742 votes.
Meanwhile, Akram yesterday demanded re-election in the constituency alleging that the voting was marked by stuffing of ballots and other irregularities.
“I demand withholding the publication of the gazette notification on the election results and re-election in the constituency after an inquiry into the anarchy that occurred at the polling centres on the voting day,” he said in a prayer to the Election Commission.
Polling was held in a total of 141 centres, out of which fake votes were cast in at least 42, according to the study.
The 43.5 percent turnout rate does not give the accurate statistic because huge fake votes were cast in the by-election, claimed the EWG.
The EWG deployed 60 observers in as many polling stations on the polling day to monitor the by-election. The report was prepared based on the information received from the election observers.
A group of people, said the report, entered into a polling station under ward no-11; forcibly took away some ballot papers from electoral officials and put those into ballot boxes after stamping. Law enforcers present there made no attempt to prevent the irregularity.
Some 50 to 60 people went to a polling centre in Alirtek under Sadar upazila of Narayanganj; stayed there for around two hours and stuffed ballot boxes.
People intruded into some polling stations under ward no-13 around 2:00pm. About 10 percent votes were cast in those centres by that time. But the rate shot up to around 40 percent within just half an hour, noted the report.
Speaking at the press meet, EWG steering committee member Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah said casting such a huge fake votes will affect the development of a fair electoral system. “We want such evil practices be stopped for the sake of fair elections and democracy to flourish,” he added.
EWG Director Abdul Alim was present, among others.
The Narayanganj-5 seat fell vacant following the death of Jatiya Party lawmaker Nasim Osman on April 30.
AKRAM LODGES COMPLAINT
Talking to The Daily Star last night, SM Akram said he made a complaint to the EC.
The by-election was not free, fair and impartial. The irregularities, specially a threat by a lawmaker to a law enforcement official, are alarming, noted the complaint.
However, a deputy secretary and a senior assistant secretary at the EC secretariat, who were designated to monitor the by-election, last night denied receiving any such complaint.
In another development, three eminent personalities in a statement last night urged Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad to take necessary steps in accordance with the appeal filed by Akram.
The three are famed jurist and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain, Nagorik Oikko convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna and Bangladesh Gonotantrik Ainjibi Samity president Subrata Chowdhury.