12:00 AM, December 31, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:34 AM, December 31, 2018

Tearful Salma quits race

Around noon yesterday, Salma Islam was wiping away tears while her husband and campaign manager Nurul Islam Babul announced they were boycotting the election.

He said their agents were driven out of polling centres and ballot boxes were stuffed by Awami League men to such an extent that made staying in the race pointless.

Salma, an incumbent lawmaker from the Jatiya Party, ran as an independent in Dhaka-1.

She is the publisher and former acting editor of the daily Jugantor. Her husband Babul is the chairman of Jamuna Group, which owns the Jamuna TV.

She and Babul announced their decision to quit the race at a press conference at their Nawabganj home around noon and demanded reelection in the constituency.

“We are boycotting the election considering the safety of our polling agents, people and voters,” said Babul, who was Salma's chief election coordinator.

It became known by late last night that Salman had been unofficially elected.

Contacted, Ali Ahsan Khokon, general secretary of Dohar AL, refuted the allegations and said people had cast their votes for the AL candidate.

AL candidate Salman F Rahman owns the Independent TV and the daily Independent.

A good number of journalists from both sides were deployed to cover the election in Dhaka-1 (Dohar and Nawabganj upazilas).

Two days before the polls, the BNP extended its support to Salma after the High Court cancelled the candidacy of its nominee Abu Ashfaq for his “inappropriate resignation” from the post of upazila chairman.

Addressing yesterday's press conference, Babul said Salma could not appoint agents for 150 of the 178 polling centres because the potential agents received death threats from ruling party leaders and activists.

Police had been raiding their homes and arresting them without any specific allegations, Babul alleged.

“After 11:00am, there was not a single polling agent working for her. All of them had been driven away.”

Visiting at least 10 polling centers in the area, this correspondent found only two agents of Salma at two centres around 9:30am.

AL activists did not allow journalists from Jamuna TV and Jugantor to enter many of the polling centres, reporters alleged.

When this correspondent attempted to enter a centre in the morning, a man asked, “Are you from Jamuna or Jugantor?”

On the other hand, reporters from the Independent TV and The Independent went in and out of polling centres without any question, witnesses said.

On December 25, an attack by masked men left at least 10 journalists of the Jamuna TV and Jugantor injured at a guest house. Over 35 vehicles of the group were damaged.

Since Saturday night, the Jamuna TV could not be viewed in Dhaka and some other districts.

Its Chief News Editor Fahim Ahmed told The Daily Star on Saturday night that several cable operators had been contacted by his office, but they did not say anything about the issue.

Cable operators wishing anonymity said Salman F Rahman enjoys clout in the associations of cable operators.

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