A queue of female voters at Chinetola Primary School polling centre in Monirampur of Jessore-5 constituency yesterday afternoon. The constituency went to the polls as voting there on January 5 had been cancelled due to violence. Photo: Star
Women voters in Monirampur upazila in Jessore-5 constituency turned up in large numbers in yesterday's re-election, ignoring fears of violence by Jamaat-Shibir.
Many BNP-Jamaat supporters, including women, also cast their ballots to ensure the defeat of the Awami League candidate, reports our district correspondent.
Voting was postponed in Jessore-5 and seven other constituencies because of the January 5 election-day violence.
While Hindus were attacked by Jamaat-Shibir men in several districts across the country for voting in the January 5 polls, two Hindu women of Hazrail Rishipara village in Monirampur were raped allegedly by men of the Islamist party on the night of January 7.
Apart from Jessore-5, re-elections took place in six other constituencies -- Dinajpur-4, Gaibandha-1, 3, 4, Bogra-7 and Laxmipur-1 -- amid tight security. Elections were peaceful and no incidents of violence were reported.
The other constituency -- Kurigram-4 -- was also scheduled to go to vote yesterday, but the polls were postponed following a High Court order on Wednesday.
According to the unofficial results, three seats went to the AL and one each to Jatiya Party and Tarikat Federation. Two independent candidates took the two other seats.
In Jessore-5, independent candidate Swapan Bhattacharjee won by bagging 78,424 votes, while AL-nominated Khan Tipu Sultan got 58,418 votes.
In Dinajpur-4, AL candidate Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali won by bagging 1,42,641 votes. His nearest competitor Enamul Haque Sarker of Workers Party got 2,797 votes.
In Bogra-7, Muhammad Altaf Ali of JP won by getting 17,879 votes, while ATM Aminul Islam of Jatiya Party (JP-Manju) polled 10,104 votes.
In Gaibandha-1, AL candidate Manjurul Islam Liton won by getting 1,18,152 votes while his opponent Abdul Quader Khan of JP got 13,044 votes.
In Gaibandha-3, AL's Yunus Ali Sarker won by bagging 1,27,563 votes and his rival independent candidate Khademul Islam Khudi got 18,204 votes.
In Gaibandha-4, independent candidate Abul Kalam Azad won by bagging 98,546 votes and AL's Monowar Hossain Chowdhury got 64,614 votes.
In Laxmipur-1, Bangladesh Tariqat Federation's MA Awal bagged 49,656 votes, while his rival independent candidate Shafiqul Islam got 21,859 votes. Awal ran with the AL electoral symbol, boat.
EC officials said voter turnout was around 40 percent on average in the seven constituencies, but it was around 6.75 percent in Bogra.
The overall turnout in the January 5 election was also nearly 40 percent, they added.
After the re-elections, the AL now has 234 seats, Ershad's JP 34, Workers Party six, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal five, Jatiya Party (JP-Manju) one, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation two and Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF) one. The number of independent lawmakers is 16.
Security was tight during the polls yesterday. A team of more than 30 police and Ansar members were deployed at each polling station.
As many as 131 mobile forces and 42 strike forces comprised of police, Armed Police Battalion and Ansar members were deployed in the seven constituencies. In addition, 81 teams of Rab and 81 teams of BGB were on duty.
Defying the cold weather and fears of violence, women voters lined up in polling centres in huge numbers from the early hours of the voting that began at 8:00am.
The presence of male voters was thin.
"We didn't vote on January 5 for fear of violence. But now the situation is better as a large number of law enforcers have been deployed at the polling centres. We don't care about threats if the police are with us," said Rama Rani Das at Syeed Mahmud Primary School centre.
Phooljan Khatun, an elderly woman of Aminpur village in Monirampur, voted at Chinetola Primary School centre.
"Voting is my right and I feel happy to cast my ballot. So why would I not vote?" she said.