12:00 AM, December 31, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:43 AM, December 31, 2018

Irregularities wash out optimism

Hopes of a fair election in the country faded as irregularities -- ballot stuffing, casting of fake votes and driving out opposition polling agents -- began to surface.

Our correspondents in 25 districts visited around 350 polling stations, and found various types of irregularities.

Furthermore, out of those stations, BNP polling agents were seen in only 100 centres.

In Chattogram, our correspondents visited 57 centres of 16 constituencies and found BNP polling agents in only seven of them. Various kinds of anomalies like ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and casting of fake votes were also seen in some places.

In Tangail, our correspondent went to seven polling stations in Tangail-5. BNP polling agents were present in all polling stations, but were inactive.

Visiting Enayetpur Government Primary School, a women's polling centre under Tangail-5, around 11:15am, the collapsible gate and the room of presiding officer was found to be locked from inside. After an on-duty policeman was informed of the matter, Presiding Officer Md Sharifuzzaman opened the door.

Entering the centre, this correspondent saw a man wearing a “boat” badge sitting inside the room, and ballot papers were seen strewn on the ground. The presiding office declined to comment on the matter.

In 11 polling stations of three constituencies, our Noakhali correspondent found no polling agents of BNP in any of them.

Mohammad Shahjahan, BNP candidate for Noakhali-4, at a press conference around 11:30am alleged that his 1,055 polling agents were forced out of 183 centres by 10:00am.

Some four to five girls were seen protesting in front of the Al-Faruk Academy centre in Noakhali town at noon. Asked, they alleged that their votes were cast before they reached their respective polling centres.

In Bhola, our correspondent visited 14 polling centres in two constituencies, and found long queues of voters in many of them. No polling agents of BNP were found. No violence was reported in the district.

In Pabna, our correspondent visited around 15 polling centres in three constituencies and found no BNP polling agents.

In most cases, whenever this correspondent entered, people started shouting “A journalist has come! A journalist has come!”

Our Thakurgoan correspondent went to 12 polling stations in Thakurgoan-1. He found no irregularities in 11 of those. However, some voters of a polling station claimed that they could not exercise their franchise as their votes had already been cast.

In Dinajpur, our correspondent visited 10 centres of three constituencies, and found anomalies -- including driving out BNP polling agents, casting of fake votes and voter intimidation -- in seven of them.  

In Rajshahi, our correspondent visited seven polling stations of two constituencies and found instances of vote-rigging and ballot stuffing in two centres.

In Jashore, our correspondent went to 35 polling centres of Jashore-1, but found no BNP agent in any of them. Voter turnout was normal with high female voter participation.

In Barishal, our correspondent visited five polling stations in a constituency and hardly found any agents of the BNP candidate.

AL men were seen in large numbers in almost all the polling stations. Around 8:30am at Nobo Adorsho Government Primary School under Barisal-5 constituency, BCL men were seen disguised as voters and casting votes. 

There were several incidents of attacks on voters and some people were seen casting votes multiple times.

In Faridpur, our correspondent visited 18 polling centres in four constituencies and found no BNP agents in 15 of those, while men wearing badges of “boat” symbol were seen inside the centres. Voter presence was very low, and law enforcers were seen sitting idle.

In Bandarban, our correspondent went to 10 centres in a constituency and found BNP agents in only two. Irregularities like stuffing ballot boxes in the presence of law enforcers, occupying polling centres and intimidating voters were seen in the other eight centres.

In Gazipur, our correspondent visited seven polling centres of three constituencies and found no BNP agents in four of them; AL men took control of the polling centres.  

Our Manikganj, Sylhet and Moulvibazar correspondents visited 46 centres of different constituencies, and found BNP agents in 26 of them.

In Cumilla, our correspondent visited nine polling centres in Cumilla-5 and-6, and found no BNP polling agents.

At Shahebabda Degree College centre under Cumilla-5, the correspondent saw a thin presence of voters but its Presiding Officer Apu Sarwar confirmed that 2,000 voters out of 2,794 of the centre had voted by 11:00am.

At 12:33pm, Samiron Chowdhury, presiding officer of Rasulpur Bahumukhi High School centre, confirmed that 3,000 of 4,761 voters had already voted.

In Jhenidah, our correspondent went to 10 polling centres and found no polling agents of BNP.

At the centres in Trilochonpur Government Primary School and Sabdalpur Government Primary School of Kotchandpur, the correspondent found AL men forcing voters to cast votes in their full view.

Besides, our correspondents in Patuakhali, Jhalakahti, Bagerhat, Khulna, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Nilphamari visited around 60 polling stations and found BNP agents in only around 20 centres.

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