• Monday, Dec 09, 2019
  • Last Update : 10:51 am

Upazila polls: Several candidates fined, detained for violations

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Low voter turnout has reportedly seen in the second phase of the Upazila Parishad Election 2019 at Rangamati on Monday, March 18, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

Voting began around 8am in 116 upazilas

With voting in the second phase of the upazila parishad (UP) elections underways, several allegations of irregularities have been reported at Pabna, Rangpur, and Rangamati centres. 

Voting in the second phase of the UP polls began around 8am in 116 upazilas and ended at 4pm.

Like the first phase, the second phase of the upazila parishad elections is also marked by low voter turnout.

In Rangamati’s Barkal upazila, voting was suspended at a centre in Barunachhari Zone Primary School around 2pm.

Returning Officer (RO) Sazia Parvin said: “The suspension came after Santu Larma’s chairman candidate Bidhan Chakma filed a complaint— with the presiding officer of the center concerned — alleging irregularities and vote rigging by ruling party candidate Subir Kumar Chakma.”

In Rangpur’s Pirgaccha upazila, Awami League chairman candidate Abdullah Al Mahmud Milon was held on allegations of harassing a presiding officer.

Additional Superintendent of Police Utpal Chandra told the Dhaka Tribune that Milon and his men charged at Presiding Officer Jainul Alam of Kashiabari School polling centre in the afternoon.

When police officials tried to stop them, they were assaulted as well. The official said the candidate had been brought to the local police station, but denied that he was detained or arrested.

On the other hand Milon claimed police had charged at him unnecessarily and detained him.

In Pirganj upazila’s Zafarpara Madrasa polling centre, Assistant Presiding Officer Biplob Hossain was arrested on allegations of stuffing ballots for the Awami League chairman candidate.

In Taraganj upazila, supporters of independent chairman candidate Shahinur Rahman Marshal alleged that supporters of ruling party-nominated candidate Anisur Rahman threw their polling agents out of the Harialikuti voting centre.

However, supporters of ruling party candidate Anisur Rahman claimed Shahinur does not have polling agents.

In Pabna’s Bera Upazila, Judge of a mobile court and UNO, Asif Anam, jailed a Union Parishad Member Sultana Khanam for five days for interrupting and influencing the voting process at Paikand Government Primary School centre.

In Faridpur upazila’s Savar Government Primary School centre, three BNP activists were beaten up allegedly by ruling party activists.

In Ishwardi upazila, Muktar Hossain, the brother of the chairman of the neighbouring Sadar upazila, was detained by police after creating disturbance at a Kalikapur polling centre. Another Chhatra League activist was detained in Muladuli and then released after signing a bond.

In Cox’s Bazar’s Chakaria upazila, independent chairman candidate Fazlul Karim Saidi alleged that supporters of ruling party candidate Giasuddin Ahmed Chowdhury snatched and stuffed ballot papers in some centres.    

In Jhalokati sadar upazila, supporters of ruling party candidate Arifur Rahman allegedly attacked and vandalized the election campaign office of independent candidate Syed Razzak Ali Selim. 

Five supporters of Razzak, who is also a local Awami League leader,were injured in the attack that took place on Sunday night. The miscreants vandalized Razzak’s home, his election office and his business - Fatema Convention Centre.

Following the attack, Executive Magistrate (Assistant Commissioner, Land) Lutfunnesa Khanam fined ruling party candidate Arifur Rahman Tk50,000, in default, one month of jail.

The official reviewed CCTV footage from the scene and found the allegations to be true.

In Chittagong, the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance boycotted polls in five upazilas.

Munir Hossain Khan, returning officer and district election officer, said, "No untoward incident has taken place so far in five of Chittagong's upazilas. Necessary security measures have been taken at all the polling centres to avert any untoward incident."

Apart from some allegations of irregularities, Dhaka Tribune correspondents—in Sylhet, Cox’s Bazar, Moulvibazar, Naogaon, Khagrachhari and Thakurgaon—have visited several local voting centers and observed low voter turnout but no irregularities. Voting was carried out peacefully.

In this election, 1,310 aspirants—including 377 for chairman, 539 for vice-chairman, and 394 for women vice-chairman posts— took part. 

Around 17.9 million registered voters were eligible to vote in this election.

The first phase took place on March 10 in 78 upazilas, with ruling party candidates reported victorious in most seats.

The third phase will take place on March 24 in 127 upazilas. The fourth and fifth phases of the polls will be held on March 31 and July 18, respectively.