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The Financial Express

Violence, irregularities mar Chattogram city polls, two killed

| Updated: January 28, 2021 11:04:59


-UNB photo -UNB photo

Voting ended in Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) polls on Wednesday afternoon amid various allegations of election irregularities and a series of violent incidents and clashes, leaving two people dead.

The voting began around 8:00 am and continued until 4:00 pm without any break while the counting of votes began shortly after the voting ended, reports UNB.

The two people, said to be Awami League supporters, were killed in violence in the city’s Khulshi and Pahartoli areas since morning.

Meanwhile, voting in two polling stations at ward No- 34 was postponed following an allegation of capturing the centres and vandalising the electronic voting machines.

Bringing various allegations of regularities, including driving out of its polling agents and obstructing voters, BNP said the CCC polls was nothing but an extreme level of joke and farce.

A BNP delegation, led by its joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, lodged around 20 written complaints on different irregularities and vote ‘frauds’ to the Election Commission.

 “Our agents were driven out of centres. More than 50 leaders and activists of our party were injured while voters obstructed from going to polling stations. It’s an unprecedented election,” Rizvi told reporters.

However, Awami League candidate M Rezaul Karim Chowdhury’s chief election agent Ibrahim Hossain Chowdhury Bablu at a press briefing said BNP’s allegations are ‘baseless’ allegations and that were brought only to mislead people.

He said BNP men attacked Awami League supporters at different polling stations.

At Ambagan in the city's Khulshi area, a man identified as Alam Mia, 28, son of Sultan Mia of Cumilla district, was shot dead and five others sustained bullet wounds in a clash reportedly between two factions of Awami League centering the election.

Witnesses said the supporters of Awami League-backed councilor candidate of No 13 Ambagan ward Mohammad Wasim and Awami League rebel candidate locked into an altercation over the election in Ambagan area during balloting.

At one stage, both groups fired gunshots, triggering a chase and counter chase.

Alam along with five others sustained bullet injuries during the incident. Later, they were taken to Chattogram Medical College and Hospital (CMCH).

Zahirul Islam, in-charge of Chattogram Medical College and Hospital police outpost, said six people with bullet wounds were brought to the hospital and one of them, Alam, was pronounced dead around 10 am.

Besides, a young man identified as Nizam Uddin Munna, 35, a resident of Pahartali, was killed in an attack reportedly by his brother over a dispute centering the election.

Quoting locals, Rashedul Haque, officer-in-charge of Pahartali Police Station, said Munna was an activist of Pahartali ward unit Chhatra League and a supporter of Awami League rebel candidate Saber Ahmed while his brother Salauddin Quamrul was the supporter of Awami League-backed councillor candidate Nurul Amin.

The siblings used to lock into altercations over the election.

In the morning, a scuffle took place between Munna and Salauddin as Munna wanted to go to polling stations.

At one stage, Salauddin hit Munna with a sharp weapon, leaving him dead on the spot. On information, police went to the spot and recovered the body.

Police could not arrest Salauddin as he managed to flee the scene.

Besides, a chase-and-counter-chase took place between the supporters of Awami League and Awami League rebel candidate at Shaheed Nagar City Corporation Girls’ High School in Lalkhan Bazar.

The supporters of both groups equipped with hockey sticks and sticks attacked each other, leaving 20 people injured.

Several crude bombs were exploded during the incident.

Meanwhile, a man was injured in a clash between two rival groups at Katalganj Government Primary School in Chwakbazar area in the morning.

Shahidul Islam Shaheed, a supporter of Awami League councilor candidate Abul Hasnat Belal was also injured in a scuffle at the Police Lines polling station.

Returning officer Hasanuzzaman said, “Voting in the Chattogram City Corporation election was held peacefully, except some stray incidents of violence. The law enforcers brought the situation under control whenever any problem was created.”

However, BNP mayoral candidate Dr Shahadat Hossain alleged that the ruling party supporters engaged in vote ‘rigging’ with the help of administration in the CCC Polls. “We hoped people would get their rights to franchise through the CCC election, but we saw naked vote robbery”, he said. 

Voting in the CCC election, which was postponed 10 months ago due to Covid-19 pandemic, began on Wednesday at 8 am.

Seven mayoral candidates, including Awami League's Rezaul Karim Chowdhury (with 'Boat' symbol) and BNP's Shahadat Hossain (sheaf of paddy), are contesting the polls.

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