In the absence of rival party activists, journalists covering the Dhaka city election at various polling centres yesterday were apparently a thorn on the side of ruling party candidates and their supporters.
They were attacked, confined and intimidated at some centres while many of them were obstructed from discharging their professional duties. A handful of journalists alleged that police and the presiding officers did not cooperate them and even drove them out of the centres in some cases.
Mostafizur Rahman Sumon, a crime reporter at online news portal Agami News, was attacked while taking photos of a gathering of Awami League activists in Rayerbazar area in the morning.
Followers of AL-backed councillor candidate Md Hossain Khokon swooped on him wielding sharp weapons and snatched his phone, his colleagues said.
Sumon was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where he had to have six stitches on his head, said Inspector Bachchu Mia, in-charge of DMCH Police Outpost.
Lying on a hospital bed, Sumon told reporters that he was attacked when he tried to capture a procession where some youths were carrying firearms and sharp weapons on Sadeque Khan Road around 11:00am.
“They pushed me down on the road and beat me up ... ” he added.
While visiting Banani Bidyaniketan School and College centre in the afternoon, Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary instructed police to take necessary actions against the attackers.
A correspondent of Press Bangla Agency was also beaten up by Awami League activists while he was filming irregularities at Nikunja Jan-e-Alam School around 10:30am, Ibrahim Sarker, a special correspondent of the agency, told The Daily Star.
He was later taken to Kurmitola General Hospital, Ibrahim said.
Followers of AL-backed councillor candidate of ward no. 4 Md Jahangir Hossain attacked Chief Photographer of Bangla daily Kaler Kantha Sheikh Hasan at Madartek School, said SM Azad, chief crime reporter at the newspaper.
The attackers also took away the memory card of his camera, he said.
Meanwhile, AL supporters snatched the mobile phone of Foisal Ahmed, a reporter at The Daily Star, as he was taking a video when AL supporters were forcing voters to vote for boat at Ideal School and College in Rampura.
Meanwhile, two journalists were assaulted at Faridabad madrasa polling centre in old Dhaka allegedly by activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League.
The journos are Mahabub Momtaji, staff reporter at Bangladesh Pratidin and Nurul Amin, staff reporter at The Businesses Standard.
Nurul told The Daily Star that the attackers snatched their mobile phones and deleted some important evidence of irregularities.
Dipon Dewan, a senior reporter at private TV channel Banglavision said the presiding officer at Uttara High School centre did not cooperate him and asked to meet him in the afternoon.
“But when I went there around 2:30pm, a police officer prevented me from entering polling booths saying the presiding officer asked him not to allow any journalists,” he told The Daily Star.
At 3:26pm sharp, only half an hour before the centre was closed, three journalists -- two of The Daily Star and another of the Bangla daily Prothom Alo -- were asked to leave a polling centre at Lalmatia Mohila College.
The journalists tried to take a photo of a screen displaying vote counts inside a polling booth, not in the secret room.
An on-duty sub-inspector, named Russel, rushed in and locked into an altercation with the reporter. He argued no one can take any photos inside a voting room.
As the journalists pointed out what the SI said was wrong, he, along with a presiding officer named Saiful Islam, took them to a room and locked it.
As the journalists showed their cards, issued by the Election Commission, the police official said, “Even if you are permitted by the prime minister, I won’t allow you here.”