Voting in 712 Union Parishads (UPs) in 37 districts of the country ended at 4pm on Tuesday amid various irregularities and sporadic violence that left a person dead and around 70 people injured.The balloting in the first phase of the UP election began at 8am and continued till 4pm without any break.
Though 717 UPs were set to go to polls on Tuesday, the Election Commission postponed elections in five UPs of Bhola at the eleventh hour.
The balloting was held in 712 UPs on Tuesday, said Director (Public Relations) of EC Secretariat SM Asaduzzaman.
As part of the first phase election, the voting in 11 other UPs will be held on Wednesday while two on Sunday, he said.
As per latest information available at the EC secretariat, voting in at least 40 polling stations was suspended across the country following violence and irregularities.
According to reports reaching the UNB news desk, the voting was marked with violence and anomalies in Jhalakati, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Barisal, Bhola, Sirajgnaj, Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Satkhira districts.
In Jhalakati, a sexagenarian man was killed and 10 people were injured in a clash between the supporters of two member candidates in Nabogram union of Sadar upazila.
Witnesses said the clash erupted around 1 pm when the supporters of Chunnu Shikdar obstructed the followers of Sajib Hossain when they tried to capture Kaliandar polling centre.
The both groups attacked each other, leaving Abul Kashem Shikdar, brother of Chunnu Shikdar, dead on the spot.
In Noakhali, an assistant presiding officer and a polling officer suffered injuries as miscreants fired shots at a polling centre in Char King union of Hatiya upazila in the morning.
In Barisal, snatching of ballot boxes by ‘unidentified miscreants’ forced the authorities suspend voting at a centre in Korapur union of Barisal Sadar upazila in the morning.
Meanwhile, 15 people were injured in Rahamatpur union of Babuganj upazila in a clash between supporters of BNP-backed candidate and his AL-backed rival.
Besides, AL-backed chairman candidate Abdul Kader boycotted polls in Dharichar Khajuria union raising allegations of snatching ballots by the supporters of an AL rebel candidate in Mehendiganj upazila.
In Laxmipur, at least 25 people were injured in separate clashes at different polling stations in three unions of Ramgati and Kamalnagar upazilas in the morning.
In Satkhira, two people were injured in police firing during their alleged attempt to snatch ballots at Bhaghbah polling centre in Kumira union of Tala upazila in the morning.
In Sarajganj, at least 10 people were injured in a clash over the capture of a polling station and stuffing ballots in Brahmangachha union of Raiganj upazila.
In Pirojpur, nine chairman candidates boycotted the election in Swarupkathi upazila on various irregularities.
Besides, a man was injured in polls related clash in Kotchandpur of Jhenidah.
In Bhola, at least 10 people were injured in a clash over attempt to cast fake votes at Swedish Free Mission School polling centre in Pashchim Ilisha union of Borhanuddin upazila in the morning.
In Narsingdi, the BNP-backed chairman candidate in Danga union parishad of Palash upazila boycotted the election on charges of various irregularities.
In Bagerhat, several hundred supporters of a member candidate, Abul Kalam Shikder, attacked in Shingjot Chandipur High School polling centre in Chingrikhali Union of Morelganj upazila around 9.55am, resulting in the suspension of voting for 2 hours in the centre, said returning officer Pijush Kanti Ghosh.
In Patuakhali, seven people suffered injuries, including two with bullets, in two incidents in Kolapara upazila in the morning.
In Pabna, BNP chairman candidate in Masumdia union in Bera upazila announced quitting the polls race alleging that votes were rigged ousting his agents from different centres.
As per the Election Commission factsheet, 3,000 candidates for chairman posts are in the election race, in addition to 7,500 women candidates for reserved seats and over 25,000 contenders for member posts in the first phase of the election.
Election to the lowest tier of the local government body is being held along party line for the first time only for the chairman post.
Fifty-four chairman candidates, all from the ruling party, have already been elected unopposed finding no rival against their respective post.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on Tuesday said the election to 712 Union Parishads was held peacefully without some stray incidents.
“The voting was fair with a huge voter turnout… the voters cast their votes with enthusiasm and without fear. Especially the turnout of female voters was high,” he told a post-election briefing at the Election Commission Secretariat.
Noting that the election was largely acceptable, he said, “There were some stray incidents in several places. However, there have been violence and irregularities…it was unfortunate.”
The CEC said voting at 56 polling stations were postponed across the country in the first phase of the UP election.
Replying to a question, Rakibuddin said the election was definitely credible as the commission had to suspend voting in only 56 polling stations out of 6,500 ones, which was proportionately very low. Besides, the EC has not received any complaint over the election fraud.
The Commission took immediate measures to stop stuffing of ballots at night, the CEC said adding that ballot papers were stuffed at several places during the previous night.
He said the Commission will file lawsuits over the election anomalies, he said.
Rakibuddin expressed sorrow about the incidents of election violence that left some people injured.
About voter turout, Rakibuddin said its percentage looks to be high.
Earlier, a BNP delegation, led by Abdullah Al Noman, met the CEC at the latter’s EC Secretariat office and demanded cancellation of voting of at least 50 UPs.
“The voting in most of the 712 UPs was marred by rigging and polling station capture. We asked the CEC to cancel balloting in at least 50 UPs on the basis of specific complaints for the sake of proving the EC’s neutrality,” Noman told reporters after the meeting.