Municipality Polls 3rd Phase: Marred again by violence, irregularities
Elections to 62 municipalities in 36 districts ended yesterday amid reports of clashes, stuffing of ballot boxes and driving polling agents out of voting centres.
Many BNP and independent mayoral candidates boycotted elections brining allegations of rigging against ruling Awami League men.
Besides, five polling officers were withdrawn over negligence of their duties in two districts.
A total of 229 candidates ran for mayor, 2,360 for ward councillor and 755 for reserved seats of women ward councillors in the third phase of the municipality polls, according to the Election Commission.
In Tangail's Bhuiyanpur municipality, at least 10 people were injured in a clash between supporters of two coucillor candidates at Kutubpur Government Primary School polling centre around 11:30am.
Voting was suspended at the centre for about 35 minutes due to the clash, said officials.
Meanwhile, an upazila-level AL leader was held in Bhuiyanpur on charges of capturing a polling station and creating chaos in the election, police said.
The arrestee is Tahirul Islam Tota, acting general secretary of Bhuapur upazila AL.
In the district's Madhupur municipality, the BNP mayor candidate boycotted the election over alleged irregularities.
In Harinakundu municipality of Jhenidah, a man was injured in a clash between supporters of AL mayoral nominee Faruk Hossain and party rebel candidate Saiful Islam Tipu at a polling centre in Mandartola-Jora Pukuria area.
Police fired shots in the air to bring the situation under control. Voting was suspended at the centre for about half an hour due to the violence.
In Feni municipality, two councillors hopefuls -- BNP-backed Noor Islam and independent candidate Tajul Islam Pavel -- in ward-14 came under attack allegedly from Jubo League and Chhatra League activists near the Rampur Mehedi-Sayeedi Poura School polling centre around 9:00am.
Several crude bombs exploded near the school and some other polling stations, creating panic among voters.
BNP mayor nominee Alal Uddin alleged that AL men intimidated voters, drove his polling agents out of voting centres and also tried to capture many.
However, AL candidate Nazrul Islam Swapan Miaji refuted the allegations.
In Shibganj municipality of Bogura, BNP mayor hopeful Motiar Rahman Motin boycotted the election alleging that ruling party men occupied polling centres and stuffing ballot boxes after driving his polling agents out of voting stations.
He complained that AL candidate Touhidur Rahman Manik sent "people with green caps" to all polling centres to bar BNP supporters from entering the stations.
Visiting Shabdoldighi Girls Dakhil Madrasa polling centre in the morning yesterday, The Daily Star found around 100 AL leaders and activists wearing "green caps" and badge of the AL candidate patrolling areas in and outside the polling centre. They barred BNP supporters from entering the station.
There was no polling agent of the BNP candidate at the polling station.
However, Presiding Officer Saiful Islam claimed that polling was going on peacefully at the centre.
In the district's Dhunat municipality, a mobile court fined two AL activists Tk 5,000 each for illegally entering Char Dhunat Primary School polling centre and beating up a polling agent of an independent mayor candidate around 11:00am.
In Munshiganj municipality, Ansar members barred two journalists from entering Munshiganj High School polling centre, saying that they needed "special permission".
An assistant presiding officer and a polling officer at Mathpara Government Primary School polling centre were withdrawn for neglecting their duties.
An officer at the polling station said criminals snatched 10 ballots of mayoral polls and stamped those for "boat" symbol. The two polling officers did not take any action in this regard and that's why they were withdrawn.
In Jamalpur's Sarisabari municipality, a presiding officer and two assistant presiding officers at Reazudding Talukder High School polling centre were withdrawn as there was no ballot paper for the mayoral polls.
The BNP mayoral candidate boycotted the election brining allegations of election rigging.
In Daulatkhan municipality of Bhola, two polling agents of the AL and BNP mayoral candidates were detained by a mobile court for using mobile phones inside polling centres.
In Natore's Singra municipality, BNP mayor candidate Md Taijul Islam boycotted the election over alleged election rigging by AL men and expulsion of his polling agents from polling stations.
In Kalaroa municipality of Satkhira, two out of three mayoral candidates boycotted the polls bringing allegations against AL men of polls rigging and driving their polling agents out of polling centres.
[Our district correspondents contributed to this report.]