• Sunday, Nov 17, 2019
  • Last Update : 08:30 pm

Polls end without major incidents

A polling agent marks the thumb of a voter before vote casting during the Gazipur City Corporation polls held yesterday Mehedi Hasan
A polling agent marks the thumb of a voter before vote casting during the Gazipur City Corporation polls held on TuesdayMehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

No incidents of major violence or vandalism were reported anywhere in the city

The polling booths for the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) election closed on Tuesday after a peaceful day of voting.

Voters, the Dhaka Tribune spoke to, were happy, saying they stamped their ballots for the candidates of their choice without any fear. No incidents of major violence or vandalism were reported anywhere in the city.

Sporadic reports of irregularities and rules violations did little to hamper this mood.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) mayor candidate Hasan Uddin Sarker however, claimed there were massive irregularities including vote rigging, ballot stuffing, and assault on his agents at more than 100 polling centres.            

At a press conference at 1pm, he demanded that the election be immediately suspended. He also submitted a written petition to the returning officer.

Returning Officer Rakib Uddin Mandal said: “Votes are being cast peacefully. However, there are reports of a few irregularities at five or six centres.”

“Vote rigging, stuffing and vandalism took place at those centres, but that did little to impact the overall election,” he added.

Awami League (AL) candidate Jahangir Alam said: “Hasan Sarker has been raising allegations since day one after he was nominated as BNP candidate. Today is no different.”

 “The election was free and fair. So I will accept the voters’ decision,” he added.

Voting started at 8am and ended at 4pm without a break. Seven mayoral candidates, 254 councillor and 84 reserved seat councillor candidates participated in the polls for the positions of a mayor, 57 councillor and 19 reserved women councillors.

The country’s largest city corporation by area has a total of 1,137,736 voters. The election was held in 425 polling centres.

A peaceful day

Our reporters visited several polling centres and found voters walking into booths without any complaints, although some irregularities were spotted at a few centres.

A gathering was seen in front of the Kanaya Government Primary School centre at 8am on on Tuesday. The AL mayoral candidate Jahangir Alam cast his vote here at 9am. After he left the centre, our correspondent visited the polling booth and could not find the BNP polling agent.

“BNP did not name a polling agent for this centre,” said Kanjurul Islam, the presiding officer of the centre.

Some voters said this region was Jahangir’s own turf, and the centre was in front of his home.

In the Gazipur Bus Terminal area, a well-known pro-BNP neighbourhood, a dozen people were seen stuffing ballot papers with stamps on the boat symbol at the Shaheed Smriti High School centre around 11:30am.

Soon the crime was discovered and a scuffle broke out among BNP and AL councillor candidates and supporters for a few minutes.

Presiding Officer Kafil Uddin said the illegally stuffed ballot papers were cancelled. 

Similar irregularities were also seen at Pubail College and MAH Arif College polling centres.

On the other hand, voters coming out of Rani Bilash Moni Government Boys’ High School, Joydebpur and Gazipur Government Women’s College polling centres were cheerful and said they had not faced or seen any problems.

“I cast my vote at 3pm at Joydebpur Government Girls’ School. Though I was informed by many that if I go to the polling centre after lunch, I will not be able to cast my vote, I did so. I am happy to see such a good environment,” said Shariful Islam, a grocery shop keeper.