12:00 AM, December 31, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:16 AM, December 31, 2018

Police-aided ballot stuffing

The ruling party supporters were seen stuffing ballot boxes from 1:45pm to 2:15pm at Gulshan Model School and College in Dhaka yesterday.

They did it at booth no. 1 on the first floor while law enforcers and election officials were present, witnessed a correspondent of The Daily Star.

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After seeing this at 1:45pm, the correspondent left the scene and returned again at 2:15pm. Al Amin, a sub-inspector who was blocking the entry, allowed him access without a camera. The police officer followed the reporter and signalled the youths stuffing the ballot boxes with a shout, “Go out... go out...”

Police on duty at Government Titumir College, which housed three centres, held back voters in long queues for hours saying the centres would be crowded otherwise.

They allowed only 10 voters at a time.

The voters in the queues said they were waiting for more than three hours at the college gate.

The correspondent entered the college at 3:15pm and found only a few voters inside with the polling booths empty.

Abul Hashem Md Farid, presiding officer of centre no. 85, said, “Voters' entry is controlled by police. What can I do?”

Noor-E-Azam, presiding officer of centre no. 86, echoed him.

Asked about it at 3:45pm, SI Sujan, who stood guard at the gate, said, “We will let them in now.”

However, many voters, tired and exhausted after hours of waiting, had already left. At this stage, the ruling party activists took control of the entrance to let their chosen people enter during the final minutes of voting.

At Block-D in Mirpur-12, our correspondent entered Al-Quran Academy around 10:00am and was immediately escorted by an SI. Asked why he was accompanying him, the SI replied, “Because I was asked to.”

When the correspondent reached booth No. 201, he found three people wearing badges of “boat” symbol there.

One of them quickly left the booth, while two others were seen stuffing the ballot boxes.

Long queues of around 1,000 voters were seen in front of Monipur School and College branch-3 under Dhaka-15. Many of the voters alleged that the booths of the centre were empty.

 

NARAYANGANJ

The main entrance to Morgan Girls School in the city remained shut since 11:30am with more than 100 voters waiting in the queue outside. One of the voters said at 1:30pm the gate remained closed for two hours.

A correspondent saw four women locked in an altercation with the armed police members at the gate as they were furious from hours of waiting.

As the correspondent wanted to enter the centre, police stopped him saying it was lunch time for polling officials. This further enraged the voters, who alleged that police even chased some of them away.

“Police chased us again and again. It seems we have come here to commit a crime,” said an aggrieved voter.

Around 60/70 voters were still waiting to cast their votes; they lost their patience around 4:00pm and started desperately knocking on the gate. Three police vehicles led by Narayanganj Sadar police Officer-in-Charge Kamrul Islam arrived on the scene immediately and dispersed them.

Contacted, the OC claimed they were outsiders and the law enforcers dispersed them to bring the situation under control.

The main entrance to Narayanganj Government Mahila College under Narayanganj-5 was found shut by police from inside around 2:30pm with 30-35 voters waiting outside.

The mini-gate was open under police guard, but the voters were not allowed to enter for more than half an hour.

Asked, the policemen claimed that there was a crowd of voters inside. As this correspondent wanted to enter the centre, a constable told him not to enter the centre “crammed with voters”.

At this stage, a voter came out and said there were almost no voters inside. “I went inside but was not allowed to cast my vote,” said the voter wishing anonymity.

The main entrance to Bar Academy High School in Narayanganj city was closed since 1:00pm for “lunch and prayer break”. Around 100 voters were waiting outside.

“I am still waiting to cast my vote,” said Kalpana Begum from the queue around 3:00pm.

Julfa Begum, a technician of a private hospital, said after waiting for two hours she returned without casting her vote.


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