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Dhaka Tribune

Ballot snatching, vote rigging mar Satkania upazila elections

Update : 23 Mar 2014, 07:36 PM

The upazila election was held yesterday at Satkania upazila in Chittagong amid ballot-snatching, vote rigging and violence at different centres.

Belal Mohammed Chowdhury, presiding officer of Choto Hatia Laksmi Bibi Madrasa polling centre in Sonakania area, said clashes erupted between the supporters of Awami League-backed candidate Nurul Absar Chowdhury and Jamaat-backed candidate Jashim Uddin around 10:30am.

It was alleged that Nurul Absar Chowdhury’s men snatched ballot boxes from the centre. 

The presiding officer said casting of votes was suspended as six ballot boxes and all unused ballots were snatched from the centre during clashes.

About 100 of the total 2,500 votes had been cast before the incident, he added. Jotirmoy Chakma, a police nayek deployed to the center, said about 200 people launched the attack on the centre.

He added that they could not open fire during the incident as there was no official to order them.

Ajit Kanti Das, presiding officer at the Sadaha Kefayet Ullah Kabir Ahmed High School, said a group of people snatched 109 ballots from a booth around 12:30pm.

The presiding officer said they had cancelled the snatched ballots.

According to local sources, the supporters of Awami League- backed candidate tried to cast his vote forcibly and fled with the ballots when police opened fire.

Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury, presiding officer at Demsha Government Primary School, said a group of people set fire to all the eight ballot boxes entering into the center around 3pm.

Abu Raihan Mohammed Ashiqur Rahman, presiding officer at the Jonar Kewchia Government Primary School, said a group of people fled with 20 ballots, failing to cast votes forcibly around 1:30pm.

Sheikh Mohammed Mohiuddin, BNP-backed chairman candidate, said it was a farce in the name of election.

The supporters of Jamaat-backed candidate vandalised the vehicle of the Awami League-backed chairman candidate Nurul Absar Chowdhury at Sonakania Sayed Hossain Government Primary School around 3:15pm.

Meanwhile, Jalal Uddin Ahmed, BNP-backed chairman candidate at Anwara upazila, withdrew himself from the election at a press conference around 2:30pm, alleging rigging by the AL-backed candidate.

Vote casting was completed with some stray incidents in Banskhali, Raozan, Rangunia and Fatikchhari.

Supporters of Awami League-backed chairman candidate Mohammad Ali Shah and BNP-backed candidate Abu Ahmed Hasnat were locked into a clash in front of Muraderghona Government Primary School in Rangunia centering torching a bike.

Casting vote was halted for a while and army men came to the spot to take the situation under control.

After visiting several polling centres at Rangunia, the Dhaka Tribune found a low turnout of voters in Majumderkhill, Shantiniketan, Rajanagar, Sonargaon and Dharmogoda inhabited by minority people.

BNP-backed chairman candidate Hasnat claimed that AL men rigged votes in nine poling centres.

Visiting Gohira College, Raozan University College and Gohira AJYMS High School of Raozan, the Dhaka Tribune also found a low turnout of voters.

It also found that the supporters of AL-supported chairman candidate AKM Ehsanul Hayder Babul and vice-chairman candidate Nur Mohammad took at least 20 ballots and appropriated those.

Babul, however, claimed that he and his men believed in a free and fair poll and he would abide by the result if he won or be defeated.

Besides, an assistant presiding officer of booth number 4 in Gohira AJYMS High School was found allegedly tearing at least 12 ballots and hiding those, sensing the presence of newsmen.

In Fatikchhari upazila, BNP and AL supporters were locked into a clash in front of Azimnagar Ahmadia Rahmania High School in the morning.

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